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I have a new band! MorningStarlett is my first metal band. We've been working very hard in preparation for our first show this Saturday. The show is at L'amour in Staten Island at 11 PM on October 17. After getting the opportunity to see Alice Cooper a few times, I was inspired to make this show more theatrical than usual. I don't want to give away too much but I can guarantee it's going to be fun. The band is sounding great. We're doing half originals, half covers. If you're in the area, come on down for an epic metal experience!
I just updated the whole site today. I went to visit another website and I thought, ugh this site hasn't been updated since 2006. Then I thought, wait...I haven't updated my site in quite some time either, so here I am.
Gear Gear Gear. I'm making my endorsements official, I decided that this advertisement stuff should go both ways. I've been plugging VHT/Freyette amps and Ernie Ball/Music Man guitars enough on my site, that they should put me on theirs. Freyette put me up there which is way cool. Check it out: FREYETTE AMPLIFICATION.
I'm still working on getting up on the Music Man site. I'll try to keep giving updates.
"My new BOC rig is almost complete" (said in Emperor Palpatine voice.") At the heart of it is TC Electronic's Nova System. This little box is great. Although it's slightly scaled down from the G-Force rig that I'm used to, it still has tons of features for such a small unit. I got a VHT/Freyette GP3 preamp going into the Nova System. The Nova is going out to a Freyette 2/90/2 90 watt stereo power amp, then into a 4x12 cabinet. I'm still waiting to get the GP3 back from being repaired, so I haven't even heard it yet. I hope to have all of this ready for the BOC gig in Atlantic City at the end of the month.
I've also been bringing a different guitar out on the road. I decided to give the Blue Silhouette Special a rest for a while. It's an awesome guitar, I just wanted to change things up a bit, so now I'm using a translucent gold Axis. The Axis sounds a little more hard rock than the Silhouette, so it's a nice fit. It's also nice to have the Silhouette home because it's such a versatile guitar that I could do any gig with it.
I'm currently in the middle of re-building my disgustocaster. Right now it's too soon to tell if it will be functional. I'm hoping it will kick ass. Unfortunately, it's in pieces all over my house at the moment.
I have a new original music project on the horizon. I'm starting it on tuesday. I'm really excited about it. I'm looking forward to doing some original music again.
There's big news in Tiger's Fang world. Thanks to a lot of help from Rudy Sarzo, Tiger's Fang is getting big support from Sony Creative Software. I can't say much yet, but look for updates very soon.
That's it for now.
The first act of the tiger's fang saga is coming to a conclusion. I have just finished Tiger's Fang V and VI over the last few weeks. I'm having a private screening for the people who helped us make it tomorrow, then on Monday it will be published to the web. I say this is the end of the first act because I plan on making several more movies. In fact I have ideas mapped out for at least another 5 more movies. As we keep doing this stuff, more people become involved, and I welcome any one who is passionate about making silly kung fu flicks. I am going to take a little break from doing these movies. I've been working non-stop on them for months now and it's a good place in the story to take a pause. I haven't been too active in making original music lately. In fact the only music I've been writing is for the kung fu movies. During this pause I hope to dive back into music full time.
Now, I have to vent my frustrations as a disgruntled DC comics fan. Please skip this if you don't care. Read on if you read comics, or you just want to make fun of me:
First let's talk about movies. Marvel is putting out comic book movies left and right. Granted, 90% of them are shit, but at least they're doing it. Seriously though, most of Marvel's characters don't have what it takes to make good films. I mean, the incredible hulk wasn't screaming for a screen adaptation, but they tried anyway. Actually most of Marvel's crappier movies; Elektra, Daredevil, Fantastic 4, Ghost Rider... are pretty shallow to begin with, so their movie counterparts are pretty much guaranteed to be mediocre. (you can probably tell I'm not a marvel fan.) But again, I give them credit for giving their fans what they want.
DC is just screwing us when it comes to movies. First let's get the obvious suspect out of the way. Batman. Thank you DC for producing great Batman movies. I found those movies extremely satisying as a long time Batman fan. To be honest, the writers of those new Batman movies didn't really screw with his storyline too much, which I thought was a good move. Aside from being more realism based, the plot from Batman begins is lifted from a few Batman comics. And again, I thought that was great. Awesome job DC.
Now that that's out of the way I'm going to move on to Watchmen. Sure, DC only published Watchmen, but why put all of your resources to work on this? How about doing a Justice League movie? You know, a movie with characters that people actually give a shit about?
Since I'm on the subject...why did that last superman movie suck so badly? Did they really think we wanted to see a remake of the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie? Why is it so lame? Who the hell wrote that script and said "yeah, this is cool, superman makes it through the whole film without fighting any bad guys...cool."
Why can't we get a Wonder Woman movie? She's absolutely without a doubt the most famous female superhero of all time, and in over 50 years we can't get one movie?
I'm excited that they're making a Green Lantern movie. I can only hope that DC is gearing up for a Justice League movie in the same way that Marvel is gearing up for an Avengers movie. I like Ryan Reynolds, but I know the online fan community would rather see him as flash. Although it doesn't really bother me too much, it just shows you how DC doesn't seem too concerned with pleasing their fans these days. Plus I was under the impression that Nathan Fillion was the fan favorite to play GL. Still, I'm just happy we're getting something.
I think a lot of people think that if they ever made a Justice League movie that Christian Bale wouldn't want to be part of it. To that I say, who cares? My opinion get this guy http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0175834/ Kevin Conroy. He's 6 foot tall and had a good enough build to play Batman. Plus he's played Batman more than any other actor in history on voice overs. He has the best Batman voice ever, and I think he'd kill it. Plus, in a Justice League movie, you don't really need to see too much Bruce Wayne, so it really doesn't matter what he looks like since he'd have a mask on the whole time.
I just did a substantial amount of reading in order to catch up with current events in the DC Universe. I just read 52, a weekly real time series outlining a year in which Batman, Superman, & Wonder Woman are not around. It was excellent up until the very end. At the end of the story, DC brought back the absolute worst thing they ever thought of: The Multiverse. What is the multiverse you ask? The multiverse is a lame story device that allows DC to create bullshit reasons for that fact that most of their series conflict with each other in terms of continuity.
For example, why doesn't Batman age? He's been around for 70 years and he's been a middle aged playboy the entire time. Here's another one, why are different characters called The Flash? How come Jay Garrick, and Barry Allen are both the Flash? To explain these issues, they created a muliverse where there are many Earths and when ever something fishy happens in the continuity, they just say, "Oh, that's going on in a different version of earth." It became so convoluted at one point, that they had to create a series called Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the sole purpose of this series was to clean up this giant mess called the multiverse. I read this thing, and it was long and tedious, but at the end they got rid of multiple earths, killed off duplicate characters. Even though I thought it was boring, it paid off because at the end of it, I had a clear understanding of the DC Universe. There was one earth, and everyone left after the crisis was the current roster of characters. Simple.
When I read that they brought back the multiverse, I knew it had bad written all over it. I just finished reading Final Crisis which is DC's latest mega crossover series. I'll be honest, I didn't completely hate it, but there were a lot of elements that boggled my mind.
First off, thanks to the multiverse, (and other problems) the story is so convoluted that it's nearly impossible to follow. Although the script is almost poetic, and the art is beautiful, the writer and the artist made it very hard to follow what was going on. I read certain pages over about 10 times, and still had no clue what was happening in the story.
Secondly, they kill off major characters in such a lame way. I'm not gonna say who, but they kill off one of the most powerful characters in the first few pages. They don't show you an epic battle leading up to his capture, they just show you that he's been captured and then in the next frame, they murder him. Hardly a fitting end for an A-lister.
That brings me to my 3rd point. This reminded me a lot of the show Heroes in that they glazed over a lot of stuff and let it happen off camera. If something cool is going on, we want to see it.
The story has similar elements to the seires finale of the animated TV show Justice League Unlimited. Except that story was easier to follow and ultimately much more satisfying. After finishing Final Crisis, I had to go online and read a plot summary because I was so confused about what I just read.
I can't speak for everyone, but I think that as a fan of comics, I don't care too much about continuity and timelines. If something is good on it's own, then that's all you need. It doesn't have to fit neatly into this grand scheme. The fact that they try so hard to make it all fit together seems like a wasted effort. I'm just hoping that now that I'm up to date, this experience will pay off when I check out the new lineup.
I've been a bad blogger. There are too many places to post things now. I got myspace, facebook, twitter, website, forum, tiger's fang forum...Ugh. Facebook is the worst. It's the first time in my life that I can be hypnotized by literally nothing. Do I need to know what all of my friends thought about the latest episode of Lost? or what they ate for breakfast? It's ridiculous. So why do I look at all that stuff? Because I'm an idiot that's why. Blogging almost seems pointless now. But I guess if someone reads it, then it isn't. So if you're reading this now, thank you for validating the minutes it took to write this thing.
All of the social networking sites have taken the labor out of having an internet presence. It also removed some of the exclusivity of it. I'm still not sure if I think that's a good thing or a bad thing. In the beginning, I had to take a class on web design just to have a spot on the internet and be able to publish my ideas and my work. Now it's a totally different game. On the plus side, I'm connecting with old friends, and I'm able to hear more independent music. On the minus side, people are becoming totally self-absorbed thinking that they must post every minute detail of their lives on the internet. Don't get me wrong, I do this too. I'm totally guilty. There's something strangely addicting to thinking that everyone knows what you're doing. It's like becoming famous one tweet at a time, or something like that.
I wonder if we were better off without all of this super addictive social networking. I think I got more accomplished before the days of, "I have to check my facebook," and "I got a few seconds to kill, I'm gonna tweet on my phone." I read an article in Mix magazine about how social networking sites are changing the music industry. That's cool, but It's hard to see it from where I'm standing. All I know is that every time I go onto myspace or facebook I get bombarded by information. I just haven't found an efficient way to sort through all of it yet. Maybe once I figure out a way to do this, I'll discover the social networking music revolution.
While I'm on the subject of the internet, I created a new website for my family's music store. It's castellanoshouseofmusic.com. You should check it out. There are a bunch free sample lessons on the site from the teachers (including 3 that I did.) There are also some great clips of the students playing.
My friend Steve Corn, created a site for the Tiger's Fang film series here: tigersfang.com. This is a fun site with faux bios and stuff like that. The 4th installment of the Tiger's fang will be released next week. The 5th will follow shortly after. During my time off from BOC, I tried to get as much done as possible. We actually filmed enough material for more than 2 movies, so we decided to split what we had in half and release them as 2 movies. In the 4th movie, we take a slightly darker tone it acts as a great segue into Tiger's Fang 5 which is going to be unbelievable. I'm very happy with the way Tiger's Fang IV came out, and I can't wait for people to see it.
I got to play 3 gigs with my cover band, Hit Me With It during the break. It was fun getting to rock out in Staten Island once more. I don't know if we'll play again. When you're 20, you don't mind busting your ass for very little, but when you're 30, the novelty of it wears off. I think the biggest thing that I've learned from playing locally again is that it's actually harder to get paid than it used to be. With some exceptions, (a place called the dugout being one of them) clubs are royally fucking musicians. It's not fair. Unless musicians take a stand against this, it's only going to get worse. No band should have to play for less than $100 a person for a full night of music. It was insulting to be chewed down by these guys. Because I play music, I should make less than everyone else? Who made that rule, and where do they live so I can go kick them in the ribs. I think a boycott is in order. Let's see how they like it when no one goes to their places anymore.
I'm boycotting one place in particular. I'm not going to mention names, but a band that I know told me they were paid $22 dollars for one set of music. 22 Dollars? Are you fucking kidding me? It just shows how little they respect musicians. Musicians should seriously boycott this place. Go hang out somewhere else, seriously. A place that pays a band 22 dollars doesn't deserve your business.
Ok, now on to some nerd business. I'm having serious MMO withdrawals, although I do like the productivity that has resulted from not playing an MMO. I still have my Warhammer account. It's a great game, but it wont run on my friends' computers so that puts a damper on it. I recently did some music for warhammer along with Eric Bloom. It's so freakin metal that it's silly! Check it out: Warhammer. I'll probably start playing again when I go back on the road.
I'm looking forward to the DC mmo, the Star Trek mmo, and the new Star Wars mmo, but those aren't coming out any time soon. To fill the mmo void my friend and I have been playing Grand Theft Auto IV multiplayer, which is the funniest game experience you can have. The sandbox style of the game allows you to play it however you want. My favorite activities are: Flying helicopters into the subway, racing across manhattan on foot, racing with ice cream trucks, and other ridiculous antics that I find completely entertaining.
I can't tell you how disappointed I am in the Wii. Aside from about 2 Nintendo titles, the gaming industry has failed to come up with a single good game for this system. Every 3rd party developer for the Wii is absolute garbage. The controls are always awkwardly laid out, and the motion control NEVER works. I can beat almost every wii game by holding the controller by the strap and swinging it around like a propeller. Ported games are the worst. Not only are ported graphics always terrible, but the controls are so ridiculous. If a game is available on both wii and xbox, you'd be an idiot to get it on the wii if you own an xbox. Come on Nintendo, get your shit together. I'm getting pissed off staring at this $250 piece of junk sitting under my TV. It got so bad that I bought a 10 year old gamecube game just so I could have a reason to turn the Wii on. It's insane that a 10 year old copy of Jedi Outcast for the gamecube is a more satisfying gaming experience than both Force Unleashed and The Clone Wars duels game. Seriously, why aren't all Wii owners as openly disappointed as I am?
Onto more serious matters, I'm re-building my BOC guitar rig. For a long time I've had to bring my stuff from home every time I had a local BOC gig. Those days are over. The home rig stays home, and this new rig stays with the BOC gear. Peavey hooked me up with a beautiful Valveking head. It sounds really good. To cheat out a few more channels from the amp, I'll be using it in conjunction with my VHT preamp in the rack. I just picked up a TC nova system that will be the heart of the rig. The nova system is a very cool device. It's small enough to put in my suitcase and it's like a rack processor/floor pedal in one. The effects are all top notch studio quality effects. This is great for me because coming from an engineering background, I tend to prefer studio effects to stompboxes. They tried to make the overdrive/distortion section of this device like an analog stomp box. They failed. The gain is useless. I don't know who thinks that muffled clapped out distortion sound is good. I've heard a lot of distortion pedals, and none of them sound anything like this. I just don't understand why they would make it sound so strange. Despite that problem, the main effects in the unit are all fantastic. I'm using it through the effects loop anyway, so I don't even know why I'm complaining about the distortion. The greatest thing about this unit is it's size. It's small enough for me to take it on the road, so I'll finally get to have effects when I play.
I'm looking forward to getting on the road again.
See you soon,
HIT ME WITH IT is back! My cover band HIT ME WITH IT is playing at the Cargo Cafe in Staten Island on Saturday, March 21st. This is exciting for me because we haven't played in a while, and we've never played at the Cargo. The Cargo is one of my favorite places to see music. It has a great atmosphere and it's a block away from the Staten Island Ferry. Definitely come down and check out this show. If this one goes well, we'll play at the Cargo more often which would be awesome.
We have a slightly different lineup for this show in particular. While Chris is busy touring, we have the amazing Phil Magallanes filling in for him. Phil is an amazing musician with an impressive resume. He was a member of jazz legend Arturo Sandoval's band. Helping us out in the keyboards and vocals department is Rob Kipp. Rob has a really cool voice, and shreds on the keys. I'm really looking forward to this show.
Hope to see you there,
I just turned 29, so I got a few toys for my birthday. My friends and family all chipped in and got be an Icon B Hofner Beatle Bass. That thing is crazy. I put flatwounds on it, and it sounds very cool. I wrote a fake Beatles song just so I can use this bass on a recording. It's one of the most fun basses I've ever played.
On the guitar end of things, I just got a Peavey Valveking head. It sounds really good. It's almost hard to believe how great it sounds considering how affordable it is. It's a 2 channel amp, so I'll probably find a way to cheat out a 3rd channel using my spare preamp.
I just picked up an Ernie Ball axis, as a backup for my EVH. This guitar is translucent gold, but it looks more like translucent yellow which suits me just fine. Maybe I'll bring this one out to BOC gigs when we start playing again.
Now for a rant: I just picked up a unit that does delay/chorus. I'm not going to mention the name of this unit. It's really cool that they put both effects in one small package, but I was not pleased with what it did to my sound when I ran it through the effects loop. The delay added this hi-mid range squeak to the tone, and the delay taps had some kind of a low pass on them. The chorus thinned my sound out to the point where it was painful to listen to. I'm sure some people may like this kind of EQ curve from their effects, but I guess I'm too much of an engineer. I just want my effects to to have relatively flat EQ curves. Can someone please make a small device that does these 2 effects without radically smushing the sound? It doesn't seem like it should be too hard to do.
Ok, I'm done.
Happy New Year!
I want to talk about a few things today. First off, Fallout 3. It's an amazing game. A super-addictive masterpiece. If you like video games, then definitely spend a little time with this game. If you liked Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, then you will love this game. This is the type of game that caters itself to your play style. You can play it any way you want to. You can choose to treat it like a standard RPG, a first person shooter, a hack and slash, a sandbox game, or a linear story mode. Any way you to play, it's probably possible. They also put a great system of consequences in this game. They let you interact and/or fight every character in the game. If you kill a non-enemy character in the game, it changes everything and the entire game adapts itself to what you just did. It's really brilliantly done, and I'm having a lot of fun playing it, and watching other people play it.
I'm experimenting with some new gear. I made a bunch of great upgrades to my personal recording studio under the advice of my engineer friends. I upgraded to Pro Tools 8 which I am enjoying so far. I also picked up a few more virtual synths and outboard processors, but I wont bore you with those details.
On Rudy Sarzo's suggestion I've been checking out some of the new Peavey Stuff and I was definitely impressed. I think I may start using some of their gear in the near future. More details to follow on that.
If you haven't seen it, Please check out the Tiger's Fang pt 3 and be sure to rate and comment on it!
TIGER'S FANG 3
The big BOC marathon is finally winding down. We've been working like crazy, and that's a good thing. But, it's still nice to get a little time off. We just got of a 5 day/6 show run ending in a super secret fans only show. We pretty much did every song we know excluding the hits. I know from being a fan myself that this is a big deal. I'm a big yes fan, I used to get annoyed when they played Roundabout, All Good People, and Owner of a Lonely heart, even though I love those 3 songs. In preparation for this show, I learned a few new songs, and brushed up on a lot of songs we haven't played in a while. I also spent a good deal of time creating new BOC intro music, that was to be premiered at the show.
The show took place at Maxwell's, a tiny club in Hoboken. We all squeezed onto the stage, and sweat out asses off for over 3 hours straight, but overall it was a good experience. The only 2 negative things I could think of, was the fact that I couldn't see the keyboards at all due to the lighting, and the CD player at the board was busted so we didn't get to use the new intro music...bummer. Other than that it was very good. My favorite part about it was seeing all the hardcore fans in one place. Everyone knew every lyric, and musical hit. The coolest thing was listening to 200 people sing "The Golden Age of Leather" perfectly. That was sick.
Now, I'm focusing all my attention to the Tiger's Fang Saga. The 3rd installment will be filmed at the end of the month. We've added new characters, locations, weapons, and we even have a secret celebrity for this new one! If you haven't seen the tiger's fang saga, go here now.
TIGER'S FANG 1
TIGER'S FANG 2
I haven't been blogging to actively these days. I got a lot of stuff going on and I haven't had time to sit an write for the blog.
The biggest and most time consuming thing is the recital. When I'm not on the road with BOC, I teach music at my family's music store. The recital is an annual show that features the talents of our students. The recital is great, but it's a beast of show and it requires tons of preparation. The best thing about the recital, is that we pretty much throw the conventional idea of a recital out the window. We pretty much run it like a full fledged rock show. Don't get me wrong, there are some really great soloists, in the classical and jazz genres, but the majority of the show is just kids rocking out. This year my students are doing, "Dust in the Wind," "All Right Now," "Don't Fear The Reaper," and an original song.
I'm also mixing a few songs for some of my students. A group of my students are taking a recording class with me, and we've recorded 2 songs so far. One's a cover, one's an original. I really enjoy doing that class. It's always a lot of fun. I also have a lot of stuff to do involving BOC, but that's normal.
Aside from the students, and BOC, I'm trying to fit in my own artistic pursuits as well. I've written a bunch of brand new songs, and I'm putting a band together to play them. We should be getting together very soon. I'm really looking forward to that.
The last thing on my plate is the Tiger's Fang 3. Yes, there's going to be a part 3. I've actually written 5 of them! Although you couldn't tell by watching them, the tiger's fang movies require a lot of work. For this next one, the costumes are proving to be the most difficult part so far.
I can't keep my eyes open. Goodnight,
Ann Marie’s Recital Unleashed!
This Wednesday, September 24th I'll be participating in Ann Marie Nacchio's Senior recital.
Now if you don't know Ann Marie, she's my girlfriend. Normally that would be a cool enough thing to be, but guess what??? She's also a kickass vocal shredder! So right there you have two awesome things to be!
Her recital is for her bachelor's study of opera, but she's also doing jazz, rock, and originals.
So here are the ten reasons why YOU should come to check out Ann Marie's Recital.
10. Shredding Opera Vocals. Like High stuff, higher than Halford. I mean it.
9. Shredding Scooby Doo Bop Shoo Wop Vocals on some classic American Jazz Standards
8. Watch Ann Marie play guitar with her mangled fingers (it's a long story)
7. Original music
6. Multi-layered shredding on your favorite classic rock songs, ya know zep, queen...
5. Costume Changes!
4. Chris Kuffner on Bass
2. You can impress people by saying you're going to watch opera (while you're secretly going to hear some fucking ROCK- and you will.)
1. I'm playing
So there you have it.
The show is on Wednesday, September 24 at 7:30 Williamson Theater - College of Staten Island.
As you can see, the site is being re-done. I don't know if we got all the photo credits right, so if you see a photo that is mis-credited, let me know, and I'll fix it right away. Also let me know if anything is buggy or just generally sucks, and I'll try and get that fixed as well.
We had a 2 Part Invention rehearsal last night, and I thought it went really well. I think we're finally ready to play. I'm going to book us a show right away, so check back for updates.
I know it took us a while to get our act together, but there were a lot of technical issues that had to be worked out. Mainly the guitars. When I first started playing these songs live, I was covering as many of the parts as possible. Having 17 guitar parts on a song is fine when you're in a controlled environment. In a studio mix, you can use panning, EQ, and volume automation to separate the individual parts. In a live situation, it just gets muddy. I think we finally found the happy medium between covering the parts and sonic clarity.
It's also been a while since I've been a lead singer. The last band I sang lead in was my college blues band. That was 7 years ago. Luckily for me, the other guys in the band sing great so we're splitting up a lot of stuff.
I'll post back soon with the details of our first gig.
January has been a pretty eventful month. I'll try to give some highlights that I think are worth mentioning.
I went on vacation with Ann Marie. We went to vegas and saw some great shows.
The Beatles - Love.
This show was a real treat for me. I've never seen a cirque du soliel show before. The performers are unbelievable athletes. Their kung fu very strong. On top of that, you got a surround sound mashup done by Sir George Martin & Co. I had goosebumps throughout the entire show.
Monty Python - Spamalot
This show was awesome. It makes fun of everything you've ever seen on Broadway in a way that only Monty Python can.
We also went to San Francisco where we stayed in Japantown. We got to experience a little Asian culture without spending a ton of money to fly to Asia.
The next week I went to NAMM. Aside from seeing a ton of new products that I want to get (and can't afford) I also got to participate in an All-Star Jam, with some pretty heavy hitters. Here's a partial list:
Buck Dharma - Blue Oyster Cult
Alan White - Yes
Liberty Devito - Billy Joel
Chris Slade - AC/DC
David Santos - Billy Joel, Elton John, CSN
Joe Vitale - Joe Walsh
Jeff Cook - Alabama
Bobby Kimball - Toto
Dave Mason - Traffic
Tommy Zvoncheck - Blue Oyster Cult
I know I'm forgetting people. It was an amazing experience playing with these guys. The highlight for me, was playing "Owner of a Lonely Heart" with Alan White of Yes. Yes is one of my favorite bands, and my inner-prog-geek was going nuts, but of course I tried to keep it contained. I have pics and videos that I will put up soon.
After NAMM, I did some studio experimentation. I got an inexpensive program called Sony Vegas. It's primarily a video program, but it also has some fantastic audio capabilities. Using Vegas, and some other programs, I successfully created my first 5.1 surround mix onto a DVD. These new tools are opening up possibilities of a multi-media project in the future. I'm currently writing some material and playing around with a few ideas that may end up being cool.
2 Part Invention rehearsals have been going pretty well. We're still a little rough around the edges, but that's to be expected when trying to recreate an album that took 5 years to make.
My cover band, Hit Me With It will be playing a show soon. All of the guys in the band are up for a reunion, so I'll post that as soon as it's booked.
In other news, I'm currently in the middle of too many video games at once, and as result, not really playing any of them...
Assassins Creed - Awesome graphics. Played it for
15 minutes so far
Super Mario Galaxy - Great game. Played it for an hour so far.
Jade Empire - 2 hours
Samurai Warriors Katana - 30 minutes
Dead Rising - 1 hour
Gears of War - 25 minutes
Mass Effect - 90 minutes
I don't actually own all of these games, some are borrowed from friends. I just don't have the attention span to sit and play them anymore. I actually find myself re-playing older games that I've already beaten. I just completed the KOTOR series, and I'm making my way through Dreamfall now. (Actually Ann Marie plays while I look at audio gear on the computer.)
Although I haven't been finishing the games, I did get to finish a great book. One of my favorite students gave me a Barnes and Noble giftcard for Christmas. As I was walking through the store, I saw an image of a Shaolin Monk holding a burger king bag. The name of the book is "American Shaolin," and it's written by a guy who went to train with the monks in the 90s. I couldn't put the book down. It's not only a great story, it's also really funny, and really interesting. If you like Kung Fu, get this book. It's "American Shaolin" by Matthew Polly.
2 Part Invention had our first rehearsal with the new lineup tonight. Check it out.
I put a bunch of stuff on youtube.com. I also linked here on my pics and videos page. I've been doing my best to update my website. I just added a message board as well, but I need to clean some stuff up first before I make it official. If you'd like to check out, go to castellano.forumer.com.
The recital is over!
My family owns and operates 2 music stores in Staten Island. We have an excellent lesson program, and every year we put on a beast of a recital. Most recitals feature some light classical and jazz, usually performed solo, or with a small group. Our recitals are quite different. This year in particular, was the heaviest student show I've ever seen. The recital opened up with Metallica's "Enter Sandman," and from the first note, it was thunderous. We had 5 amp stacks on stage, a keyboard rig that would make Keith Emerson Proud, and a full PA.
It wasn't all metal though. We had some great classical soloists, and some very talented jazz players. We also had a lot of pop and classic rock as well. I'll give you an example of some of the material:
2 Minutes To Midnight
Bark At The Mood
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik - (performed by a Brian May style quintet)
All of the songs were great! The recital is a lot of work though, and I'm glad it's over.
Now I can start focusing on my own material. Unfortunately, I'm beginning to think that the 2 Part Invention live project is cursed. Our bass player dropped out. His schedule became too busy, and for the last 4 months he was only able to make one rehearsal. I do have a Plan B, but I'm not going to announce it this time. I think I may have been jinxing the band with all of the blog updates. When I book gigs, I'll put them up here, until then, I'll have to keep quiet.
I'm currently installing Pro Tools 7.4. I hope it doesn't suck, and I hope that it makes my workflow go faster. I have a lot of stuff I want to record, and I don't want to spend a long time doing it.
Here's a quick update...
I'm getting into recording again. I've been doing a seminar at the music store, and it's giving me the recording bug again. I have very talented kids in my class, and they're inspiring me to do more studio stuff. Right now, I'm experimenting a bit. I'm doing what you would call experimental music, but I'm trying different styles, recording methods, ideas, song-types...whatever. I'm ready to do another studio project, but I just want to play around a bit before I decide what exactly that project will be.
It's recital time at the music store. My schedule is pretty crazy between BOC shows, and the classes I'm teaching/taking. I haven't had as much time as I'd like to rehearse my students, by I'm happy to say that they're all doing their best and they all sound great. I think the recital will be great this year, even though it will most likely a huge pain in my ass.
To anyone who has been waiting for a 2 Part Invention live show, I sincerely apologize. I wanted to have this band up and running 2 years ago, but things keep popping up to delay it. Honestly, I'm dying to play this stuff live. I think I NEED to play this stuff live. I haven't been doing many gigs where I do that type of guitar playing or singing, and I NEED to do it so I don't forget how to do it. The problem is scheduling. When you work with talented people, it's hard to schedule rehearsals because a lot of talented people have a lot of stuff going on. I'm told from my bandmates, that we will begin rehearsing at the end of October. My fingers are crossed.
I got the opportunity to play at the PNC Bank Arts Center this weekend. It was really a big deal for me. We openned for Lynyrd Skynyrd, and we got to play an hour long set. Although it was a short show, it was still an incredible feeling playing there. What made it different from other gigs, is the significance that venue has for me...
When I was 14, I started poking my head out of the pop music box. I was a huge fan of the Beatles and 50's Rock n Roll. That was about the extent of my musical listening range. Although the Beatles, and Little Richard kick ass, I was unable to think about music in terms other than the "under 4 minute pop song." I do acknolwedge that there's nothing more difficult than writing a concise song that people will like, but there's more to music than just that. Anyway, back to the story. When I was 14, I was introduced to the music of Yes. I hated it...at first. The more I heard it, the more it grew on me. It didn't take long until I became a Yes fan.
Coincidentally, around this time I saw an ad on TV for a Yes show at the Garden State Arts Center. (The Garden State Arts Center is now called the PNC Bank Arts Center.) I bugged my dad, and he took me. My uncle Phil, who turned me on to the band, also joined us. That night was an amazing musical experience. The band was slamming, and I was officially hooked. It wasn't just a good concert, it was my first real exposure to live progessive music. It changed my life. I'm certain that if I hadn't gone to see that concert, I wouldn't be in BOC. BOC is also a very progressive band. If you don't believe me, I suggest you follow along with the arrangements of Black Blade or Buck's Boogie.
Being at PNC as a performer was a magical experience, and I just want to thank the guys in the band for getting me there. I want to thank Lynyrd Skynyrd for having us as their guests. And most importantly I want to thank my family, friends, and everyone who attended the show for the support. Thanks for making it so special.
In the "complete nonsense" category, I'm pumped about some new games, not so pumped about some new games, and re-playing old games until the new games come out. I'll expand on this if you care. If not, then stop reading. If you hate video games, this will bore you to tears.
Tabula Rasa is a futuristic Sci Fi MMORPG that promised to break all of the molds. They're promising that this game with not be a grind-fest, and that it won't suck your will to live a normal life. They promise that you can play for a half hour and have fun. They promise that combat will not be a game of stat management. They also promise that you NEVER have to grind. If all they promise is true, then I WILL play this game for a long time.
Samurai Warriors: Katana is going to be the first Wii game where you get to use a samurai sword for most of the time. I can speak for a lot of people, and say that Red Steel was a dissapointment in this regard. Too much sub-par gun play and not enough cool samurai stuff. If I can swing the wii-mote around like an idiot, and have the samurai on-screen move his sword around in that same idiotic way simultaneosly, then I will be a happy camper.
Star Wars: Force Unleashed is game that I was 'kinda' looking forward too. I don't have an xbox 360 or a PS3, so there was going to be no way for me to play it. Yesterday, I found out that it's coming to the Wii! Also, there will be a special "wii-only" multiplayer lightsaber duel mode! Oh happy day! This is pretty much the reason why I got the stupid thing.
Star Trek Online is probably going to be the nerdliest game ever. It's not going to come out any time soon. There's just a bunch of hype for now. After the catostrophe that was "Star Wars Galaxies," I'm skeptical about whether or not they'll be able to pull of a Star Trek MMO. Regardless of whether this game is the greatest Space game ever, or the biggest steaming pile of shit to ever grace a PC screen, I'll still play and tell myself that I like it.
Halo 3. Whoopdee Doo (in sarcastic tone). Offer an option to play in 3rd person if I want, and I'll get excited.
Dreamfall Chapters: I can't wait to see what happens to Stark & Arcadia. I hope they launch this soon.
Knights of the Old Republic. After finishing the main quest in Oblivion, KOTOR is filling the void. Although I beat this game a few years ago, I'm watching my girlfriend play the second time around, and observing what kind of character she beomes. She's playing like a softy so far, so I anticipate her going to the light side.
Diablo 2. I never played this game before. I found the disc in my basement. My dad was a Diablo fanatic before MMOs came out. I loaded his disc onto my PC. I also bought another copy for my girlfriend and we play over battle-net when I'm on the road. This game is out-dated, simple, visually unstimulating, and mind-numbing. In other words, it's the perfect game to play after a gig. I'm not slagging it. It's an old game. You can't compare Diablo 2 to World of Warcraft. But the truth is, I really like this game. I have fun everytime I play it. The free online multiplayer was the major selling point for playing this game so many years after it came out.
Hotel Dusk: Room 215. This is my current handheld game. It's a Film Noir styled cop mystery that takes place in the 70s. It's formatted like a point and click adventure game. The game is slow moving, and simple, but it has a good enough plot to make it worth playing. It also used the DS in some clever ways. I really enjoy this game.
That's all for now.
blogging from kalamazoo
I've been slacking on the internet stuff. It's partially because I had to completely wipe my laptop hard drive, and lost a lot of stuff in the process. I've also had a lot going on. I recently moved (well sort of,) and I had to re-organize, and re-locate everything I own.
Right now I'm at a hotel in Kalamazoo, MI. We're playing at a ribfest tonight. If you've never been to a ribfest, it's kinda fun. It's basically a huge BBQ party. This month is going to be very busy for BOC. I don't know if I said this yet on here, but Rudy Sarzo...yes, the Rudy Sarzo, is playing bass with BOC. He is a fantastic bass player, and a terrific guy. Rudy probably has the most impressive resume in all of heavy metal. He's played with Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Dio!
Last night we played with Deep Purple. Playing guitar for Deep Purple is one of my all time favorite guitarists, Steve Morse. If you've never seen Steve Morse play live, I highly recommend that you check him out. It's a very cool and freaky experience to share a stage with one of your musical influences. You start thinking..."maybe I shouldn't play that Steve Morse lick I always play..." Anyway, I really had a great time, and I enjoyed Deep Purple's set immensely.
Speaking of concerts, I just bought tickets to see another one of my musical influences, Squeeze. If you've heard my 2 Part Invention album, the Squeeze influence is pretty obvious. I'm going to see them at the Starland Ballroom, and I'm really looking forward to it.
I don't like to jinx things, but I will announce 2 Part Invention's new member. We are playing with a very talented guy names Jason Liebman. Jason will be playing bass and singing with us. He's primarily a guitarist, but that's what makes him the perfect candidate to play the bass parts for these songs. He's also an amazing singer/songwriter. We've only met a few times. The summers are very busy for me. I plan to get things going with 2PI very very soon.
I'm starting a recording class at House of Music (Staten Island.) This is going to be a 16 hour seminar in recording a rock band using pro tools and a home computer. The inspiration for this class came from my students. Many of my guitar students are starting bands. Their bands want to record demos. A lot of them buy home studio software and expect that their recordings will sound great. This is not the case. Even though recording technology has become smaller and more affordable, you can't expect to make good quality recordings with no knowledge of production and engineering. This class will consist of 8 one hour lessons with me in a very small class setting (about 4 people,) and 2 four hour sessions at a state of the art recording studio. For more information call 718-982-8548.
In what little spare time I have, I still manage to play some Elder Scrolls: Oblivion with my girlfriend. If you like RPGs, get this game.
I've also started another pen & paper RPG with some friends. We meet once a week, order pizza, and then yell at each other for 4 hours. (It's great)
On long flights, I've been watching the sci fi channel's "Battlestar Galactica" on my iPod. It's a great show. Very well done.
I'm in the middle of reading "Dune Messiah" by Frank Herbert. So far it's a little slow going, but I think once I finish Galactica, I'll get into it again.
I guess that's all I can think of for now. I'm gonna go post some show dates, because I've been slacking on that too.
Today, I got on a plane. I sat down in my seat. When the plane was airborne, I took out my iPod, and put on Ernest's Bloch's Hebraic Rhapsody, Schelomo. I dozed off in about 3 minutes, and this is the dream I had.
(some events may be out of order. It is a dream, so I can't really recall the timeline.)
I was in my girlfriend's room, getting ready to leave for a BOC gig. Her father poked his head in and mentioned that there were a lot of problems at the airports today, and I should be careful.
I then took out a double guitar case. On one side, I had my guitar, on the other side, I put a samurai sword and 3 daggers. I then went to the airport. I met Eric at the airport, and I asked him, "How am I gonna get through security with a Samurai Sword?!?" He responded, "Don't worry about it. People buy swords when they travel abroad. How do you think they get them home?" Apparently, this explanation made sense to me and I walked right into the airport.
Things were strange at there airport. There was no security line. We just walked right in. There was a large metal tunnel with an extreme ramp going down that lead to our gate. I remember this because in the dream, I forgot my laptop bag outside of the tunnel, and I had to walk up the ramp to get it.
The tunnel opened up into a food court. I followed Eric, he walked very slowly, and mentioned that something was not right about this. All of the sudden we heard, "FREEZE, put your hands up!"
We turned around and noticed that a tank had made it's way into the food court. Romulan soldiers emerged from the tank and held phaser guns pointed at us. Eric and I complied and put our hands up. Just as we were about to surrender, this girl (who moved like Chun Li from the game Street Fighter) bounced around and took out one of the Romulans. Eric followed her lead and took one out himself. I responded by doing a James T. Kirk style tumble, except it was pathetic, and I didn't roll completely over. I kinda got stuck on my head with my legs flailing above my. I was picked up by a group of resistance fighters. The leader of the fighters looked suspiciously similar to my Kung Fu teacher. The resistance rushed the tank.
Then I woke up. The flight attendant was talking to me, so I took off my headphones. Only problem was, the music was still playing. Obviously I hadn't woken up. My mind was fucking with me. I just wanted the music to stop because I realized that this crazy music was causing these dreams. I started to slap myself, trying to wake up, and push the stop button on the iPod. No matter how hard I tried, the music kept playing. I turned to my left. In the seat next to me was Alia Atreides. She was teen-aged. She said, "You'd better drink some water." I asked her why, and she replied, "Arrakis is a very hot place, you're going to need to store a lot of water in your body." I asked, "how much do I have to drink?" In the seat behind her, Paul Atreides was sitting, and he said, "About 2 quarts if you want to survive the dessert. You should also put as many bottles of water as you can in your bag." Now I started getting nervous. I didn't want to go to Arrakis at all!
I started chugging bottle after bottle of water. I asked, "Shouldn't I bring suntan lotion?" They wouldn't dignify this question with an answer. Then I started becoming aware of the details of the book, "Dune." I asked them, why do I need to drink so much water? Won't I get a stillsuit?" They replied, "We get stillsuits, you do not."
Everyone got off the plane, except me because I couldn't find my laptop bag. I thought that someone stole it. I started to panic, and that's when I woke up for real. I turned off the crazy Ernest Bloch music, and slept peacefully for the duration of the flight.
I just wanted to write all this shit down before I forgot it.
Happy Birthday to The Scro!
It looks like this is the season for new bass players. BOC has been using 4 bass players (including myself) on the past few gigs. My original band, 2 Part Invention, has just completed bass auditions as well. I look forward to unveiling our new bassist soon. We're going to try to do the trio thing, and see how it works. It's a lot of work for me, but it's also a lot of fun.
Since this is a blog, I think it's time for a top
10 favorite movies list. (why the heck not?)
this list is most definitely subject to change
Honorable Mention: Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade - Directed by Steven Spielberg. I can't have a top 11, so I figured I'd throw this in anyway.
10. Game Of Death (Director's Cut) - Directed by
Bruce Lee. This is not really a complete movie. Bruce Lee was working on this
when he died, and never really got to finish it. The Studio got another actor
to play Bruce, and tried to finish it by making up their own plot, and editing
in clips of previous Bruce Lee films. The result was a really bad movie. The
Director's cut can only be found on the special edition DVD set for "Enter
The Dragon." It contains only the footage that Bruce Lee shot himself.
Since Bruce only got to shoot the fight scenes before he died, this is pretty
much a half hour of non stop fighting, and no plot. It's fucking awesome.
9. The Pink Panther Strikes Again - Directed by Blake Edwards. Even though I'm a huge martial arts fan, I'd still have to say that this movie has my favorite fight scene. The scene takes place at the beginning of the movie when Clouseau, played by Peter Sellers, comes home from work, and is attacked by his housekeeper, Cato, played by Burt Kwouk. They proceed to destroy the apartment using weapons hidden randomly throughout the rooms. The rest of the movie featured Peter Sellers in his true genius.
8. Star Trek: First Contact - Directed by Jonathan
Frakes. I wasn't expecting this movie to kick ass much ass as it did. I was
blown away by it when I first saw it, and it remains to be my favorite Star
Trek movie. You can't beat Patrick Stewart reciting classic literature in a
7. This Is Spinal Tap - Directed by Rob Reiner. Any movie that I quote at least once a day deserves to be on this list.
6. History Of The World: Part 1 - Directed by Mel Brooks. Mel Brooks is out of control. To prove it, he made a movie where he insults every race, religion, and society from the dawn of history.
5. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (Japanese Version) - Directed
by Quentin Tarrantino. I wasn't the biggest Tarrantino fan until I saw this
movie. I felt like this movie had everything I ever wanted to see in one bloody
package. He pays tribute to every genre of martial arts film that I can think
of. I picked the Japanese version, because it doesn't go to black and white
in the big sword battle. I love that she wears the Yellow and Black suit like
Bruce Lee did in "Game of Death." I like the way the colors look and
I always got pissed off when the American version goes to black and white.
4. Amadeus - Directed by Milos Forman. Although this is a tragic story, this movie makes me excited about music every time I watch it. I think it's awesome that a movie can do that.
3. Yojimbo - Directed
by Akira Kurosawa. The moral of this story is: "You wish you could be as
bad-ass as Toshiro Mifune." I wish Toshiro Mifune was in every movie.
2. Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back - Irvin Kershner. The agonizing moment when Luke realizes who he is, makes this movie my favorite of the original trilogy. I know that most people don't think Mark Hamill is the greatest actor, but that scene when he is hanging over the pit, cradling his wound, screaming at Vader is a big payoff for me. The rest of the movie is also amazing. You got Hoth, Yoda, Han's awesome piloting, Lando, and Boba Fett!
1. Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith - George Lucas. With the exception of a few sketchy moments where it sounds like the characters are reading off of cue cards, this movie has everything I ever wanted to see in a Star Wars movie. As Obi-Wan, Ewan MacGregor approches near-Mifune-bad-assness. I was not surprised at all when I found out that George Lucas actually wanted to get Toshiro Mifune to play Obi-Wan in the original Star Wars movies.
For a while I've been tossing this idea around. Now that a lot of people have broadband connections, it's possible to do recording sessions over the internet. With that being said, I'd like to offer my services. My studio is completely digital and completely ready for internet sessions. I haven't worked out a rate yet, but I can guarantee it'll be less than my standard recording rate, just because recording alone from my home, doesn't require me to put pants on.
I can pretty much do anything over the internet. I can record guitar parts, bass parts, keyboard parts, and vocal parts. I can also provide any other intsruments you may want via high quality samples. I have an awesome collection of drum samples to choose from. I can do string arrangements, horn arrangements, and other sort of arrangments you may want. I also have access to a lot of musicians, so if you want real, horns, I can do that too. I can also do audio work online as well. Give me your raw tracks, and I'll mix them for you.
If you're old school, we can still do sessions the old fashioned way. I have access to a state of the art analog/digital HD studio in Staten Island. This costs a lot more, but it's there if that's what you want.
Before I started playing with BOC, engineering was my job. Here's a brief Resume to show my credentials:
Bachelors in Studio Production (summa cum laude)
from The Purchase College Conservatory of Music
Masters in Studio Composition from The Purchase College Conservatory of Music
Staff Producer/Engineer for Larchmont Records
Staff Engineer for L&M Sound Design
Producer/Engineer on the following records:
Regina Spektor - 11:11
Blues Tribute to the Grateful Dead - CMH Records
Lounge Tribute to Ozzy Osbourne (as heard on MTV's The Osbournes) - Vitamin Records
Lounge Trubute to Eminem - Vitamin Records
Regina Spektor - Mary Ann Meets The Gravediggers - Warner Bros. Records
So that should give you an idea of what I can do on the production end. If you're interested in doing some online sessions, contact me and we'll talk about how I can assist you.
I'm going to be posting my deep thoughts on the myspace blog as well. They will be the same post each time. I’m doing this because some people prefer myspace, to standard websites. Also, the myspace blog allows people to comment back on stuff, which is a neat feature. Eventually I’ll have to do something like that on my own website, but for now, it’ll be this way.
I just got turned onto a new album, well, not a new album, but an old album that’s new to me. On Danny Miranda’s recommendation I got a copy of Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell.” I’ve always liked Sabbath, but this album in particular scratched some itch, that the other Sabbath stuff wasn’t hitting for me.
I love the songs on this album, and Ronnie James Dio’s delivery is just perfect. It’s like a guide book on how to sing Heavy Metal. Fom the guttural growls to the exaggerated pronunciations, the vocals are just plain awesome on this album.
That’s it for now.
felt like blogging...
I wanna talk about a genius named Ragnar Tørnquist. For the last few years I've grown...I guess...disillusioned with video games. I am not a great 'twitch' gamer, meaning I suck at halo, even though I really enjoy that game. There have been action, and fighting based games that I got good at, but that was through practice. At 27, I don't want to practice video games. I have way to many other things to practice. The list goes as follows...Guitar, Keyboards, Bass, Song-writing, Singing, and Kung Fu (I'm up to 5 unarmed forms, 3 bow staff forms, and 1 dagger form.) I can't, in good conscience, add first-person-shooter to that list. I feel like all of this hard-core gamer/athlete mentality is kind of alien to me. I like to be competitive in games, but it's kinda hard when most gamers take this stuff way more seriously than me. With that being said, there are a select few games in which I can lay down a serious whoopin'. I was very good at Jedi Outcast. I had a guild, and my own server for a short while. I got so serious about it, that none of my friends wanted to play with me anymore. I had become too powerful and turned to the darkside...I guess. The other game is Mortal Kombat. My friends just won't play this game with me at all. Aside from some other forgotten games, that's where my gamer expertise ends...except for rhythm based games. On a whim, I rented one of those games where you push buttons in time to make a guy do fancy dance moves on the screen. I kicked ass. I swore never to play those games again because I felt like I was using my music training for evil. I tried guitar hero just for shits and giggles in best buy the other day. That's the current rhythm game of choice. That was a little too easy also. I just wont play those games any more. In my desperation, I turned to MMORPGs. BTW, I just cancelled my galaxies account....AGAIN. I'm sorry, to all you WoW heads out there, but MMORPGs suck. It's a false promise of fun. The whole concept/trick of an MMORPG is very simple. You, the player, will have a lot of fun in this game...eventually. You are currently too low-level to partake in all of this fun, and amazing stuff you see in the opening credits of the game, but if you spend time (by time they mean $15 per month) leveling your character up, you too might have fun. What's funny is that most MMO-players call this process of leveling up 'grinding.' It is a 'grind.' You get home from your real-world job, and you enter the virtual job. In your real job, you may work on a computer mindlessly and endlessly clicking away. In the game, in order to "level-up," you need to kill thousands of critters who all react the same way to your attacks. So you basically sit at your computer and mindlessly and endlessly click away. It's work folks, not fun. They dangle the fun in front of you while they collect your subscription fee.
I won't lie. I have had 'fun' playing an MMO. In Dungeons & Dragons Online, there were some very creative instanced dungeons that were very challenging, and in Galaxies there were a few legendary PvP wars, but those moments are few and far-between. In Dungeons & Dragons online, the instances may be great, but you need to play each one multiple times in order to 'level-up.' You need to do some of the quests as many as 4 times in order to make it to the next level. Galaxies was cool for a while, but the servers couldn't handle any of the epic battles. The game would lag like crazy. Galaxies is pretty much fucked now anyway. The developers totally slaughtered that game, it's dead. They should just take it offline.
My point...if you can call it a point, is even though you're having a little fun, you always think you'd be having more fun if you were a higher level and that's just a promise that none of these MMORPGs can keep.
Anyway, back to the MAIN point....
During my video game depression, I would always keep an eye out for the next thing. The game that would end my slump. One day, while browsing blockbuster's usually dismal selection of video game titles, I saw a white video game box with a beautiful girl on it. Not a photo of a girl, a graphic. The image looked more real than a photo somehow, kinda like the girl was looking at me. I picked up the box and checked it out. I didn't see any guns or anything terribly violent-looking on the box. (I love games with guns and violence, but I was just tired of all of that stuff at the time.) The game looked like it was...different. I knew that this was the game that going to change things for me. The game was called Dreamfall. I rented it, and that night my girlfriend and I played it. We were introduced to Zoe Castillo, one of the most 'real' characters we've ever encountered in a video game. She had no super-powers, no weapons, no armor. She was just a normal girl. The game started off in the most mundane way ever. Literally nothing. You wake up and talk to your dad about how aimless you are and wallow in flaky-ness. It was weird. Usually at the opening of a game you break out of prison, or get thrown into an arena with stormtroopers, ya know, stuff like that. There was absolutely nothing going on. It was kinda creepy to be honest. Despite the nothingness, we were intrigued. We walked around Zoe's neigborhood, met her friends, saw where she hangs out, just normal stuff. However, piece by piece, things started to seem off. As we peeled back the layers of this game, we got pulled in to this much larger world....or worlds, as the game would say. When we completed the game a couple of weeks later, we were completely confused. The ending was as cryptic as the game itself. But even though we had no idea what had just happened, we knew that we liked it. We kept thinking about and talking about it.
I went online to try to find some explanations as to what actually happened during the story I just witnessed. I learned that dreamfall was actually a sequel to a PC game from the 90's called 'The Longest Journey.' I went to my local video game retailer and asked for the game. They had no idea what I was talking about. I had to let this new-found curiosity fade, and I eventually pushed this experience out of my mind.
A few months later, I was Christmas shopping on Amazon.com. I was searching for a gift for my friend Tony, who is into the lord of the rings and other fantasy franchises. One of the pages I looked at had a little box in the corner saying "people who bought this also bought." In that little box was 'The Longest Journey.' They had just re-released it on PC-DVD. It was selling for 10 Bucks!!! Needless to say, I bought the game. I gave it to my girlfriend, Ann Marie, for Christmas.
We didn't play it right away. The euphoria we experienced from playing dreamfall was long gone. About a month after Christmas, on a boring day, Ann Marie decided to start playing 'the longest journey.' She called me up and said, "You have to play this game. It explains everything!" I wasn't super-thrilled about playing an almost 10 year old game. I like my graphics to be slick. I can't stare a pixilated crap for too long without getting frustrated.
I started playing. The graphics were definitely dated...in the most wonderful way. This wasn't a 3D game with photo-realism. This was like playing a painting. I couldn't get over how beautiful this game was. It's like Sophia Loren. You know she's as old as your grandmother, but you'd still....whatever, I'm getting off topic again.
The game is gorgeous. The sounds are great, and the superb voice acting just throws it right over the top. I played the game for 20 minutes and I got the dreamfall feeling again. That slightly eerie, mysterious, yet ethereal feeling. I've never felt this way playing any other game. The story-line is pure genius. The writer solved the internal nerd conflict.
Nerds can't decide if they like sci-fi or fantasy better. This explains why Star Wars and Final Fantasy are so popular. Star Wars has a high tech space-faring civilization for the sci fi nerd in all of us, and the force, a mystical energy field that binds the galaxy together, for the fantasy buff in all of us. Every nerd liked Halo and World of Warcraft, and would be hard-pressed to tell you which genre he likes better.
The writer of 'dreamfall' and 'the longest journey,' solved this problem in a most ingenious way.
SPOLIER ALERT FOR THOSE OF YOU ACTUALLY CONSIDERING PLAYING THESE GAMES
He separated sci fi and fantasy and put them on two different worlds. You, the main character, shift between the two worlds, and experience both. The background lore, is equally deep and impressive. I was so amazed by the writing, that I looked online again, and found that the person responsible for this is a guy named Ragnar Tørnquist. The name is Norwegian I think.
The universe that this guy created is astounding, and I don't know why everyone isn't going nuts over his work. Supposedly, this whole story he created has 3 parts. The 3 part has yet to be released, and there's even question as to whether or not it will even come out. If you ask me, all 3 games should be available, then huge budget movie productions, then an MMORPG.
If you're interested in video games, and want to try something a little different, go on Amazon.com and spend the 10 bucks on 'the longest journey.' It's a thinking game. It requires no hand-eye coordination skill. The game patiently waits for you to make decisions. It's not frustrating to play at all. If you truly get stuck, you can always look up a walkthough for the game online. This is a sore subject between Ann Marie and me. She likes rushing through the game with the walkthough, and I only use it if I absolutely have no clue what to do next. The bottom line is, you can suck at video games, and still enjoy this one.
To Mr. Tørnquist,
I think you're games are fantastic. You made games fun again. Please keep up the great work.
The fate of the balance is in your hands,
Today, I want to write about gear. I'm in the process of updating a lot of my gear, so it's probably a good time to rant about it...
When I was about 15 years old, I used to dream about gear (as most 15 year old guitarists do.) Most teenaged musicians fantasize about having their dream guitar, and a stack of amps. For me personally, it was Ernie Ball/Music Man guitars, and VHT amps. At this year's NAMM show, I pursued this fantasy, and I'm proud to announce that I am now an endorsee of Music Man guitars and VHT amps. I've been using my Music Man EVH as my main guitar since high school, and recently I've been using a VHT rack setup for local gigs. My new Blue Oyster Cult guitar setup will be a Music Man Silhouette Special, and a VHT Pitbull 100 CL EQ. Obviously, on some gigs where rental gear is used, I may not get to use my amp, but I'm going to try to use it as much as I possibly can.
For my bass playing, I'm now a LaBella strings endorsee. I started using them at Buck's reccomendation, and I was very impressed at how alive they made the bass sound. On the foof bass, I use LaBella hard rockin steel 45s (5 string set.)
The rest of my gear is still the same. I'm still using my Ibanez bass, my ampeg SVT classic stack, and audio technica wireless.
So that was my gear-slut rant...
see ya soon,
Hello! I'm not sure if anyone reads this anymore, but I'll update it anyway for my 2 existing readers (mom & dad.) There's been a lot going on in BOC. I'm currently playing guitar and keyboards with the band. This change totally blows my mind. Playing guitar with Buck Dharma is incredible. The fact that I even get to trade licks with him on a few songs is just fucking awesome. The keyboard situation is surreal. I've played keyboards for years, but only in a songwriter's capacity. It never really dawned on me that it would be something I could do live. After wood-shedding my keyboard chops for a few days, it all started coming together. I'm having fun with the keyboard parts, especially the hammond organ stuff.
I just got back from the NAMM show. It was pretty crazy this year. Tons of people. I did however manage to make a few connections with some of my favorite manufacturers. I'm pretty close to becoming a Music Man endorsee. I'm really happy about that because I've been playing a music man since freshman year of high school. I'll post more news as it comes.
I've been writing a lot. It's been fun. Since I just put out the 2 part invention album of all my pop songs, I feel free enough to work on my heavier stuff. I've been pretty much writing stream of consciousness, with no filter. The results have been some over the top music. Some of it is actually listenable! I expect to spend a few more months writing material, then I hope to record the songs very quickly. My new home studio setup was totally built for speed. I can crank out pretty high quality stuff at a very good rate. I'm not promising another CD right away, but I can guarantee that the music will be available in one form or another.
That's all for now.
I haven't been that nervous playing a gig since I was 13...
Holiday shopping got you down? Come check out my new cover band BRONSKY at the Cup in Staten Island on Tuesday night at 8. Bronsky was formed by BOC drummer, Jules Radino, and me as a means of keeping our chops up between BOC gigs. We're having our first gig on tuesday. Joining us will be Andy Ascolese, and Joey Cotroneo. Hope to see you there.
Ever notice that when you feel a certain way, it almost seems like 1/3 of all the Beatles songs were written for you?
I just saw the Chick Corea Elektric band. Unfrigginbelievable. Seeing those guys is pure joy. I had a huge smile the enitre time. They're total superstars. Even the sax guy rocks. You got Chick Corea on Keyboards, Dave Weckl on Drums, Eric Marienthal on Sax, Frank Gambale on Guitar, and Victor Wooten on Bass. It was amazing. Frank Gambale in particular blows my mind every time I see him. Seeing those guys reminds me why you're supposed to practice.
I saw Borat. Funny stuff.
My Guitar Rig is going through yet another facelift.
This is the work in progress picture. I'll take a finished picture on my next gig. I have to use 2 effects processors, which I'm not too happy about. The G-Force is fantastic, but I couldn't get it to absolutely everything I needed. I'm still using the Digitech IPS-33B for the complex harmonies. The Acoustic Simulator is a new addition as well, but I'm still trying to tweak that out. I've used the stuff on two gigs so far, and the sound has been completely different depending on the venue. I feel that the rig is capable of getting what I want, but I need to just get a better handle on what every dial does.
I'm enjoying Galaxies, but there's almost no one online. It's a bit of a drag. I feel like the game has so much potential, but no one knows how to take advantage of it.
I got my blue sash in Kung Fu. I think I know 4 unarmed forms, and 3 weapon forms now. One of the weapon forms is a 2 person bow staff form. It's really cool, and a lot of fun. I think what makes it fun is knowing that if we screw up, one of us can get smacked in the head with a stick : ) If anyone lives in Staten Island, I highly recommend Xialoin Martial Arts.
My apologies for not updating this so frequently. The MySpace thing is all consuming. Plus, it's the buggy-est website on the planet, so you need to enter all of your info like 3 times before it actually goes up. But even though it's a pain in the ass, it has it's purpose. That stand-alone music player is bitchin (even though I hate the way MP3's sound.)
I put a new song up there. Check it out here- MySpace:Richie Castellano.
The song is called "No One Needs To Know." It features my girlfriend Ann Marie on vocals. Before you think, "Oh great...another crappy love duet" do not be fooled! Ann Marie can sing her ass off. She sounds like fucking Halford! Just listen to the damn song!
Another song up there is called "Now Is The Time." It's a song I wrote for someone else to sing. The version up on the MySpace is actually my demo, version, but it sounds pretty good anyway. I'd imagine it's not hard to guess who I wrote that song for.
Anyway, I'm hoping these 2 songs will set the tone for my next recording project. I want to make an Arena Rockish album with some hints of prog, classical, and metal. I'm also entertaining the idea of making it into a concept album. My first album, "Alone in my Basement", is a concept album, but it's more personal. This one will deal with similar feelings, except on a grand scale in a fantastic setting. We'll see what happens.
I'm on IBANEZ.COM!!!! Under the electric bass artists section! They do make one hell of a 5 String Bass. The Foof is the Ultimate!!! I have yet to find a 5 string bass that I like better.
On the local front, I'm doing a recital for all of my students this weekend. It's so much friggin work. It's kinda crazy. Once it's over, I hope to reclaim my life and play guitar gigs and write songs again.
Here's what's happening in the dork department...
1. I'm back on Star Wars Galaxies. I'm playing from scratch, and I gotta say, the quests have been pretty damn good.
2. I've been playing a pen & paper RPG (yes, it's like dungeons & dragons. no, we don't dress up and fight each other.) The game was created by the same company who makes D&D, except it takes place in a Star Wars setting. It's really a lot of fun. My friend Tony Hanson is the Game Master. He pretty much sets up scenarios for us, and we have to improvise based on how our characters would act and statistics based on our race and profession. If you'd like to take a glimpse into Tony's imagination go to FenixDown.com
3. I got Mortal Kombat Armageddon. One word review...Awesome!
4. I'm close to getting my blue sash in Kung Fu (although that's not really dork news.) I'm really enjoying studying Shaolin Kung Fu. My teacher, Sifu Charles Bigham, is opening up a new place in the Travis area of Staten Island. I highly recommend it. I guess the only dorky thing I can say about Kung Fu is "I'm pretty good with a bow staff"
Blue Oyster Cult is playing near my house!!!! Literally 2 minutes away at the College of Staten Island, on November 18th! I can't wait!
I was on the cusp (is that how you spell cusp?) of getting sick so I been taking all this zinc and vitamin C. I'm not sick now, but I have to pee 20 times a day and my tongue feels very strange. How's that for too much info??? We played tonight with Rock Legends Cactus and Vanilla Fudge which both share a few musicians. It was pretty cool.
I got a myspace. I was initially against it. I have this fabulous website, so why would I need it? But I do like the myspace music player. It allows me to put up demos and not worry about people downloading it. Believe me, I have nothing against downloads, but only when it's the finished product. I like the idea of putting up works in progress, without committing to something as being etched in stone because a bunch of people downloaded it. Since myspace is now the preffered method of searching for independant music now, it became clear that I needed to get with the times. With that being said, my myspace address is:
Nobody reads this shit anymore thanks to myspace, so this is purely self-indulgent blogging at this point. The summer gigs are finally winding down. I feel really weird at this very moment. I'm sick, but I don't know what I have. I had a bit of a sore throat on friday, but it was no big deal....until I got on a plane and it evolved into a massive sinus pressure thing that I still have 5 days later. It sucks. It feels like a someone is blowing up a balloon inside my skull. I'm actually sitting here, feeling guilty that I'm sitting. The summer has been so relentless that any time spent doing nothing, feels wrong.
My new studio is shaping up, along with a new guitar rig. I wanna play some guitar gigs so badly. Maybe October. I can't wait to unleash the new rig.
I think I'm gonna make a myspace music to put some writing excercises up. We'll see....
This summer has been a killer. I've never played so many shows in my entire life! The playing is incredible, but of course the travelling sucks. I just got back from a European tour with BOC. It was great to play in England. Since my favorite bands come from England, I've always wanted to play there.
On what little time I've had at home, I managed to upgrade my studio. Hopefully this will be the end of my bitching about my studio being down. The only drag is that my firewire drives are still not working correctly. There's definitely something screwy going on there. I think I'm gonna just copy all of the stuff I need onto an internal drive and then try not to use the external drives anymore.
I hope I can help clarify a few things for Pro Tools
users in this paragraph:
The Digidesign website is very vague concerning it's new LE software. This is the deal. Pro Tools 7 M-Powered comes with an iLok USB dongle that holds the pro tools authorization along with all of your other plug in authorizations. It also comed with a soft synth called Xpand. Xpand is brand new, and the digidesign website hardly says anything about it. Let me tell you this...It ROCKS!!! The sounds are incredible! The amount of control you have over the parameters is pretty good too. I don't think you can import your own sounds into this program, but the sounds it comes with are awesome. I was blown away by the hammond organs, pianos, and drums. I think this synth will definitely increase my productivity. The other thing I want pro tools users to know about is the music production toolkit. The music production toolkit inlcudes a few bomb factory plugins (including the famous 1176 emulator) a TL Sampled Reverb that is pretty sweet, and Sound Replacer. It also increases the total audio track count from 32 to 48. What threw me off was that the toolkit comes with Pro Tools 7. I freaked out and thought that I bought the same thing twice, but after a call to customer service I was assured that I did the right thing. The iLok is pro-tools. The toolkit doesn't come with a pre-authorized iLok so the software included should just be treated as an upgrade. I hope that clears things up for anyone doing a desperate internet search on MPowered Pro Tools.
Once the summer winds down I hope to jump into my other live projects. I want to play some guitar gigs again....badly....
Check this out: http://www.metalexpressradio.com/menu.php?main=interviews&id=580
My latest CD, 2 Part Invention, is now available for digital download on iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster and other digital distributors. It's really cool. I checked it out on iTunes and got a little tingle. : )
I'm thinking of changing the 2 Part Invention band into and overall original thing so I can do songs from all 3 CDs. I'll keep ya posted.
I'm getting a new cover band together. I can't reveal too much about it yet. We're having our first meeting on Friday. Hopefully it will sound good. I think the lineup will work out really well. I've had to put the 2 part invention thing on hold, until we get this cover band happening. The 2 part invention songs are really difficult to play live. Andy and I are constantly re-thinking how our live band should be. I had a weird dream last night about re-mixing the 2 part invention album in surround sound. I had to rent a massive hard drive, and book out a surround sound room in NYC. For whatever reason, I kept showing up to the session forgetting stuff. I don't know what that means.
I started listening to Yes a little more. Mainly for the bass playing. What's funny is that after the BOC Westbury show, someone came up to me and said, "You sound like Chris Squire." That was a huge compliment. I think in terms of bass playing I have unique influences. Most bass players have the same heroes: Jaco Pastorius, James Jamerson, and Victor Wooten. I think those 3 guys are unfrigginbelievable. Jaco was a genius, and James Jamerson is probably one of my favorite bass players to listen to. I've seen Victor Wooten live, and he blew my mind playing things that I didn't think were possible on the bass. Although I highly admire these 3 people, my influences are a little different.
I think the way I approach songs comes from Paul McCartney. The Beatles laid out the blueprint for how rock arrangements work. He's the idea guy. Rather than double a guitar part, McCartney would have a separate melody going on in the bass that made the song that much better. I also hear the same thing in Blue Oyster Cult music with Joe Bouchard's bass lines. There are a few BOC songs that I play note for note like the original, and the bass lines never double the guitar part. There's always something interesting happening in the low end.
In BOC I use as many styles of bass playing as I can. I play with my fingers, slap, and tap, but mostly I play with a pick. At my first meeting with the band, Buck suggested that I mostly use the pick. This was great for me since I prefer to play that way. My love for the sound of picked bass definitely comes from Chris Squire. I think that his sound, is the best rock bass sound. I love the way he attacks the bass. His sound is aggressive and orchestral. He almost sounds like an entire upright bass section feverishly bowing in unison. A lot of people say his sound is thin. It does have a lot of growl up in the high end frequencies, but it is most certainly not thin. I've seen Yes live about 7 times, and you wouldn't believe the amount of low end coming off his bass. At one concert I was sitting in the last row of the theater with my head rested against a wall. During his bass solo he hit a low E note that rocked the room so much that it sent thunderous vibrations into my head giving me a headache for the rest of the day. Now that's LOW END. With that being said, I definitely pay tribute to Chris Squire whenever I pick up a bass.
Any sort of advanced techniques I do come from one source, my uncle Phil. Uncle Phil pretty much taught me how to play bass. He also taught me how to slap, which isn't the easiest thing to do. My uncle is very good at the slap bass style, but he's also great with the pick. He developed a hybrid picking/slapping style on the bass that I emulate with BOC. I usually do it in songs like ETI and OD'd On Life Itself. To me, it makes more sense to hybrid pick/slap then to go from using your fingers to slapping. When you do the fingers to slapping thing, the sound gets a little to inconsistent for my taste. With that being said, there are always situations where it can work really well. There's another technique my uncle does with all of his fingers that completely boggles me. I think I'll work on that one next.
Most people who know me know that I'm primarily a guitar player. You can usually tell when a guitar player plays bass, especially if they use a pick. The truth of the matter is that the bass is a different animal. Before a BOC show there are plenty of guitars around. Backstage they have an acoustic guitar that they pass around for warming up. I avoid playing guitar at all costs before a show. I try to get into bass mode and stay there. During songs, I try to consider how my bass part affects the big picture. I think that this is the big difference between a bass player and a guitar player. As a guitar player I concentrate on what I'm doing. I can change gears very quickly without really affecting anyone else in the band. As a bass player, I focus on everyone else. The slightest change in a bass part can drastically influence the feel of a song. This is a big responsibility to have. During songs I'm always evaluating how I fit in to everything else and if I can do any thing to make positive changes.
This brings me to my last influence. There is a time and place for everything. My bass solo is the time I can throw everything I wrote in the previous paragraph out the window. Before I mentioned Chris Squire. He takes bass playing to the boundaries with the amount of notes he can play while still providing a solid bass part. Since this is a bass solo and not a song, I go right past that boundary and morph the Chris Squire style into an Eddie Van Halen style. I guess Eddie Van Halen could be a bass influence for me. I don't do the Eddie thing during songs, but in the solo I find it very appropriate. It's also a lot of fun to play like that on a bass because it sounds kind of evil. There's also a little Yngwie in there as well ; )
Wow, that was a good rant. Maybe I'll end this one with my top 10 favorite bass players....
10. Derek Smalls - Spinal Tap
9. Larry Graham - Sly & The Family Stones
8. Victor Wooten - The Flecktones
7. Steve Harris - Iron Maiden
6. John Deacon - Queen
5. John Entwistle - The Who
4. James Jamerson - Motown
3. Uncle Phil
2. Paul McCartney - The Beatles
1. Chris Squire - Yes
"Big Bottom drives me out my mind, how can I leave this behind?"
I wrote a new song last night. I woke up this morning and started to work on recording a demo of it. I was programming the drums, and the mac froze. I restarted, and continued to program. A few minutes later the mac crashed. I'm done with this computer. I think I'm gonna do the PC thing. Ugh... I may have another recording project coming up in the near future, so I'll try to get all of this computer stuff done ASAP.
We took new BOC photos on our last west coast run. They came out really well. Check them out at www.blueoystercult.com
Things are looking a little better in mac-land. I re-intsalled everything, and so far so good. Although I know it's only a matter of time before the bullshit starts up again. If I can't get these problems under control, I'll either move everything to PC, or try to buy a new mac.
I learned an important life lesson at the airport the other day. We were waiting for a plane to arrive at our gate while Eric was talking to some guy about Star Wars. He brought me into the conversation for a few minutes, until I excused myself to go do some stuff on my laptop. Eric continued the conversation while I tinkered with e-mail and iPod settings. After the flight Eric informed me that the guy was an author....MY FAVORITE AUTHOR. I didn't even realize it. I have to honestly say I learned a thing or two that day. It's good to be humbled every once in a while.
I'm starting to hate my mac. After a thorough cleaning and a re-install, it's still acting screwy. I'm probably going to have to do another re-install to see if the problem is software related. Other than that, and kung fu classes, I'm kinda taking it easy until April which is going to be a crazy month of touring with BOC and rehearsing with 2 Part Invention. It's a kinda neurotic being in a national touring act and a garage band at the same time.
I'm deep in the shit now. My studio is DOWN. It's gonna take a few days to get everything back up. Computers are great, but sometimes they can be a real pain the ass.
I cancelled my galaxies account. It was a sad day, but I just don't play enough anymore. I did, however, get the new D&D game. We'll see how that one works out.
That's the news for now,
I'm having one of those weeks when everything breaks. My recording computer, laptop, hard drives, car windsheild, side-view mirror. Everything crapped on me. I'm just starting to get things back to normal. I'm trying to backup/update my recording computer so I can start working on new stuff. I don't know what the next move is. I definitely know that I want to play out more with 2 Part Invention. Maybe that will lend itself to more recording. I already have more power pop songs written. Almost enough for another album!
2 Part Invention is doing pretty good on CD baby. Thank you!!!
In nerd news, my dad got Dungeons & Dragons online. It looks pretty freakin good. I think I'm gonna cancel my galaxies accounts. The developers pretty much destroyed galaxies and it's completely not fun anymore.
I started hanging up some of the cool pictures, paintings and drawings that I had laying around. The studio is starting to look like an art gallery. Take a look:
Happy Valentine's Day.
Last week was my 26th birthday. I can now see 30 over the horizon. (heh heh) I got an iPod from my friends and family. They all chipped in and got me a really nice one. The funny thing is that it got me to seriously listen to music again. I dusted off all of my genesis and yes CDs. Re-visiting those albums has been a lot of fun. I'm also getting into this power-pop thing a little deeper. I've been checking out the most syrupy sugary sweet pop tunes. I don't know what it is but I can't get enough of it! I went out and bought the soundtrack to the "Josie and the Pussycats" movie today. It's awesome. The songs were written by members of Jellyfish, Fountains of Wayne, and the Go Go's. The album was produced by Babyface. Friggin Awesome.
I've also been stepping up the Kung Fu a bit. In addition to doing the kung fu workout and technique classes, I'm also studying the bo staff. (see napoleon dynamite) The Kung Fu thing has been really working out for me. It the only excercise routine I've been able to stick to with no problems. It's a lot of fun.
I'm back! The Vacation was great, but being a tourist is a lot of work. Right now I'm sitting in a hotel in Potsville, PA. BOC is playing tonight at a club called goodfellas. We had a 5 hour rehearsal yesterday. We learned a bunch of new songs. I'm curious to see the setlist for tonight. I'm hungry. Time for a trip to the vending machine.
Hey, I hope you like the updated site. I pretty much cleaned stuff up to make it easier to browse and easier to update. I'm going away on vacation in a few hours. My girlfriend, Ann Marie, and I will be visiting London and Vienna. This is what I would describe as a music nerd pilgrimage. I still be alble to check my e-mail while I'm there so anyone needs to reach me, that's the best way.
Happy New Year!
I'm working on the new website. Hopefully it'll be up soon.
Ok I lied, the website isn't updated yet, but the good news is...
THE CDs ARE HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOO HOOOOO!!!!!!!!
They look and sound great! We're having the release party at the Muddy Cup in Staten Island on December 28th, everyone is welcome. While I work on this site, your best bet is to check out the NEW 2 PART INVENTION website!!! I'll be putting all of the updates there for now.
They'll be for sale online in a few days!!!
Thanks a lot!!!
It's official. My album has escaped. Andy and I brought the master and the artwork to the manufacturing company. It's officially out of my hands and should be out in 2 to 3 weeks. I'm planning a CD release party in Staten Island, hopefully some time soon. I'm also planning on having this site re-worked by the time the CD is out. Check back for updates.
Quick Update. My album is constantly plagued with technical problems. I refuse to release something that isn't the way I think it should be. At this point I don't even think I'm being a perfectionist. These are blatantly obvious problems that need to be fixed. I really hope I get this thing by Christmas. That would be the best Christmas present.
It turns out that doing a re-print of Alone in my Basement will cost double the price I was quoted, so now I'm not so sure I'll be able to make all the changes I wanted. I might print up more of the original booklet and just do a re-print of the Tray Card.
Now for some good news. My students had their recital on Sunday and it was a fantastic success. They played so well. It was a great show. My older students did Burnin' For You. It was really difficult in the rehearsals, but they pulled it off brilliantly at the show. My youngest students did Blitzkreig Bop by the Ramones, and it was really great. I have one student in particular who plays 6 instruments and sings. She played guitar and sang lead vocals on Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson and did an amazing job. I have two other students who happen to be cousins. These two kids practice constantly and really shred. They did Bohemian Rhapsody. Fronting the group on lead vocals was another student of mine who had never sung lead vocals on stage in her life. Bohemian Rhapsody is a pretty tough song for your first at bat. Nevertheless, they tore the roof off that fucker and blew the doors out of the theater. It totally rocked. I think that they did it better than my cover band does it! I was so proud.
Now for nerd-speak. If nerd-speak offends you, please skip to the next paragraph. Battlefront II = Good. New Galaxies Patch = Not So Good. Battlefront II is my current favorite. I got it on X BOX and it's really a lot of fun. I had 3 friends over last night. The 4 of us were on a rebel mon calamari cruiser. We all ran to a hanger bay and boarded a multi-passenger gun-boat. We launched into space. One of us flew the ship, the rest of us jumped into turrets. We evaded hostile fire as we carefully flew into the hanger bay of the enemy's Star Destroyer. Once on board we quicly exited our gun-boat and began to disable the star destroyer from within by placing explosives on their criticial systems. Once we crippled their defenses we stole one of their bombers, and used it to finish the job of blowing up the Star Destroyer from the outside! WAY COOL! Galaxies on the other hand needs some work. The new patch went live today and it's a completely new way of playing the game. My father is pretty frustrated with it. I have to admit that I haven't played it yet, but I was helping him with his account. The game is still bugged. I went to go re-map some controls to make the transition easier for him to handle, and the game would not apply these changes. The whole patch seems kinda silly, but I'll give it a good month before I form a complete opinion.
I got some vacation time coming up. I think I'm gonna take a musical pilgrimage to Europe. England for Rock, and Austria for classical. Anyone ever been to Austria? Let me know what you think.
Ann Marie got me volume 1 of the new Beavis and Butthead boxed set. Maybe now is a good time to break that open.
I'm really pissed now. I just typed this whole long friggin thing and my computer crashed. I guess I'll try to repeat some of what I wrote in a brief version...
The album master is done, I'm just waiting to pick it up. The artwork is officially done. It looks fantastic. I'm gonna send the album out to printing before the end of the week.
I ran out of print material for my first album "Alone In My Basement." For anyone who doesn't really know the story of that album, I'll fill you in on some of the details...
I wrote it when I was 16. It's about all of the bullshit you have to go through in high school when you're not one of the "cool" kids. I recorded it at 17 on an anolog 16 track along with MIDI equipment that was considered to be very old at the time. I released it when I was 18. This was before the big CD-R boom. I was the first kid in the area to make a real independant CD. The CD completely sold out of the first pressing. It went on to win 2 songwriting awards, and got a write-up in EQ magazine. It was a big deal for a high school kid. It's a little weird to listen to it now, especially since everyone has pro-tools and auto-tune. Although it's not perfect, it's still a good album with good songs, good playing, and some very creative engineering. A lot of the songs are very personal, and I find them hard to listen to at times, but I'm still really proud of that album and I will stand by it until I die.
Since I'm out of the "Alone In My Basement" print materials, I figure I'd take this opportunity to update the design. The original design is all black and white because I made the actual booklet from photo-copies. The CD is actually a high-quality glass mastered product, but the booklet had to be photo-copied because I simply didn't have enough money to do a real package. The big problem with updating the packaging is that I have no clue where all of those photos went. At this point I can either re-scan the photo-copied booklet and have it look shitty, or I can pick some other pictures that I have from the same time-period and use those. Luckily, I still have the original drawings that Louis Kornfeld did for me. They look even better now, so that's an improvement.
Aside from all of this, I got the recital for my students in a few days, and my girlfriend, Ann Marie, has a broken finger. She's going in for surgery tomorrow, so I'll be running around quite a bit in the next few days.
Thanks to everyone for coming down to the party last night. I had a lot of fun. There were a lot of great costumes. My buddy Steve Corn had the sick Darth Sidious (The Emperor) costume. It looked real! I saw Morpheus and Trinity from the Matrix, Egon from the Ghostbusters, Inspector Clouseau, complete with man-servant Kato, Hulk Hogan, Marylin Monroe, and many more fantastic costumes. Me and Ann Marie went as the two most bad ass archeologists ever. She was Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, and I was Indiana Jones. I'm actually sitting here eating breakfast in my Indiana Jones attire. It's just so damn comfortable that I don't want to take it off! I think last night might have been the official last Hit Me With It gig. It was definitely fun, and we sounded pretty good, but I didn't feel it was like it used to be. Everyone is in a different place musically and that's a good thing. Personally it was a little wierd playing guitar on stage. I think I'm going to start up a new cover band with Jules Radino where I play lead guitar. I think that will help me get back in gear. Also, I think Andy Ascolese and I will be playing our original stuff out. I think that's going to be a tremendous challenge. It's easy to cover parts from other guitar players, but to play your own stuff and make it sound good is another thing all together.
That brings me to the Castellano/Ascolese project update. I got it back from mastering and it sounded good. We're a few minor changes away from perfect. The mastering took longer than I thought, but these revisions are very important to me. Even with technology improving, making a CD ain't cheap. If I'm gonna invest a lot of money into pressing these CDs, I want to make sure it sounds exactly the way I want before I have a thousand of these things out there. It's gonna be another month. I'm probably gonna shoot for December/January for a CD release party.
I was very fortunate to get Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith on DVD a day early! I watched the deleted scenes with Scro and Ray Magnuski last night. I was watching this thing and getting goosebumps. They show the formation of the rebellion and Yoda arriving on Degobah. It was really cool.
Recital rehearsal for my guitar and bass students is now in full swing. The recital is in less than two weeks. I have some very interesting song selections for my kids. We're doing Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones, Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson, Burnin For You by Blue Oyster Cult, and Bohemain Rhapsody by Queen. The hardest song is definitely Burnin For You. The kids listened to it and thought it would be easy, but it's kicking their asses. The arrangment is deceptively complex. Bobby Rondinelli always used to say 'this stuff sounds easy, but it ain't.'
Indina Castellano signing off,
Queen ROCKS. Paul Rodgers ROCKS. Brian May ROOOOCCCCKKKKSSSSS!!!!! I got to see my favorite band with my favorite guitar player with one of my favorite singers, in action on Sunday night. Oh man, that was amazing. Brian May's guitar sound is the greatest thing I've ever heard. It was also a blast to see Danny Miranda on bass. He did a fantastic job and nailed all of the parts. The show was a real treat. I'll never forget it.
So tomorrow morning, well actually this morning, I'm going back to my high school to play a show for the kids. I'm playing with my friend and musical partner Andy Ascolese, and bassist, Chris Kuffner. The 3 of us all went to high school together. I don't even know what to play. This is wierd considering my last gig on guitar was at an arena with Blue Oyster Cult. Maybe I'll convince the other guys to to Burnin For You. I'm excited to be playing through my rig again. I've had to cut my rig down a little bit. One reason is that it was way too heavy. It took two guys to carry my old rack. I put everything in smaller rack. Another reason is that I had to move some of my gear over to my BOC rig. I used to ocassionaly use in-ear monitors on guitar gigs, but for BOC gigs I use them 95% of the time. In BOC, I sing a lot of the high parts and it's really hard to hear falsesetto vocals over roaring amp stacks. So now, the in-ears live on the road with the BOC gear. My guitar amp definitely takes practice to use. I hope I don't have to spend half the show futzing with knobs.
No word from the mastering department yet. I'll post an update when I get it back.
Why would anything go quickly and smoothly? It's funny... every phase of this album has been difficult. Everything had to be done at least twice. Now, at the final stage of production, things are no different. The album should have been done by now, but due to technical difficulties, we didn't get it yet. Big surprise. The artwork is all done. It looks fantastic. We also went over a few rough spots with the art too, but that's all taken care of now. I'm so tempted to put a picture of the cover on this site, but I think it will be worth the wait to have the whole package presented together. I think that saying it will be ready for sale around the 3rd week of november would be a good guess.
I bought the world's most fun video game. I was hanging around with Ann Marie playing X Box and I realized that I didn't have any good simple multiplayer games. I got Halo 2 but first person screws with my eyes. I also have unreal championship 2, but that has a tendency to fry my nerves. I remembered a game that I played a while ago called "Samurai Warriors." I went to Electronics Boutique and the had a copy in the back, brand new for $20! It's awesome. You start off being awesome, and it stays that way for the whole game. The game is crazy. The put like 100 bad guys on the screen at once, and you just hack and slash your way through all of em. It's so much friggin fun.
My cover band, Hit Me With It, is doing a Halloween show at Dock Street Bar & Grill on October 31st. It should be cool. I got my costume together. I'm very excited about it.
I'm going to see..............................
tonight! They're my favorite band of all time. Brian May is my guitar god. They're being fronted by Paul Rogers, who also happens to be one of my favorite singers. This is gonna be so fucking cool.
that's all for now.
This is cool. I finally setup my laptop for website stuff. Now I can update my site from the road. I'm sitting in the hotel room in Falls Church, VA a few hours before showtime. Things are going well with BOC. We had a few weird gigs with some missing personnel due to illness, but everyone is feeling better now, and things are back to normal. Last week was my one year anniversary with the band. Pretty Cool : )
This was a big week. I have finally passed off the Richie Castellano/Andy Ascolese album to the mastering engineer. It is now out of my hands. (sigh of relief) We're currently working on the CD package. The mastering should be done in about 2 weeks. Then, hopefully, it'll go off to manufacturing. As soon as the design is complete, I'll put it up here. For now, I have an mp3 clip of all the songs: castellano-ascolese clip.mp3.
I'm throwing a Halloween party at Dock Street Bar & Grill in Staten Island, on Monday, October 31. It's definitely going to be a costume party and I think there's going to be a prize for best costume. My cover band, Hit Me With It, will be playing in costume. I'm looking forward to it. It's time to start practicing guitar again...
That's it for now,
Hey, I finally have some time to write stuff on here. The BOC summer tour has been in full effect, so I've been gone a lot. We just came back from Canada on monday. We're playing every weekend during the summer which is totally awesome. Check out blueoystercult.com to see if we're playing near you.
I also managed to squeeze in a vacation during the first week of July. I went to Vegas with my girlfriend, Ann Marie. It was really cool. We've been going out for close to 3 months now, and It's been incredible. Here's a picture of us on the bridge of the USS Enterprise NC-1701 D (actually a really cool room hidden somewhere in the Las Vegas Hilton)
That's right, Kirk-style...
Now that album is officially mixed, I'm looking for a mastering engineer to touch it up before if goes into duplication. While I do that, I figured I'd put up a clip for anyone who was curious as to what this project sounds like. Here ya go:
The Richie Castellano & Andy Ascolese album clip.
Now that the album is done, my schedule is starting to free up. I'm probably going to start working on another project soon. I just haven't yet decided what exactly that will be. I'm still toying with that hard rock DVD concept. We'll see what happens.
On the video game front, I have big news. My father has become a Jedi in Star Wars Galaxies. Being a Jedi is one of the more advanced goals in the game. It's so funny to watch because my father made his character look a lot like himself. When I look at the screen and see my dad swinging a lightsaber around, it's friggin hilarious. Galaxies is my main game but i'm also trying to play Unreal Championship 2 on X Box. UC2 is fantastic. It's probably my favorite first person shooter. It's too bad that I suck at it so much. I haven't had any time to play X Box on account of being on the road so much, but trust me, that's a good thing ; ) I also just bought this game called Neverwinter Nights Platinum, which is a D&D style RPG. What attracted me to it is that players can make their own worlds that other player can enter via the internet. How cool is that? If anyone knows anything about this game that they'd like to share with me, feel free to e-mail me.
That's it for now, check back for updates on when the album will be released.
Whoa!!! it's been a while since I last posted, but in this case it's a good thing. As I'm typing this, I'm burning a CD of the final mixes of the album I just completed with Andy Ascolese. Maybe now would be a good time to tell the story of how this project came about...
The first song I wrote for this album was "Someone Like You." It was my first attempt at writing a punk song. The only thing that was really punk about it was the tempo and the power chords. The style was more on the rock/pop side than punk. In this song I found a comfortable musical environment. I wrote that song about 6 years ago. I continued to write a few more songs like that one, and lumped them all in with some other random songs in an attempt to make an album. This album was going to be called "Got A Dollar?" The problem with "Got A Dollar" was that it was actually 2 albums: An up beat rock album, and a dark progressive album. Once I realized this, I decided that half of this album would have to wait for another time to be released. I decided to work on the up beat stuff becuase the last album of original music that I released was a prog rock album.
Meanwhile, Andy Ascolese was working on a similar project on his own. We were both influenced by the retro sounding bands like Fountains of Wayne and Jet. We decided to put our songs and our efforts together to make one super album.
Andy and I started recording this album in the Winter of 2003/2004. We tracked most of the drums at Studio 900. We would go in after hours and work until the early morning. We would play hard. On one of these sessions I think Andy broke 7 drumsticks and I broke 4 guitar strings. We recorded the drums and rhythm guitar together to keep a sense of band in the album. After a few days of tracking drums, we brought the hard drive back to my house and added everything else.
From January to August, we tracked. We devoted most of our time to the project. Once mixing started, we ran into problems. Everything was all over the place. Our mixes were too big to fit into one version of pro tools so we had to use 2 computers to mix. Unfortunately that turned out to be disasterous, so we ended up scratching that idea and spent most of our time bouncing tracks down to make them fit on one version of pro tools. The mixing was really difficult. All of the songs have a lot of layers, and we wanted all of them to be heard. On top of this, we had less free time to work on the album. Andy joined a band called J Freak, and I joined Blue Oyster Cult. At this point we were only able to mix once or twice a week.
We finished our first draft of the album around May. Then we started making mix notes and began tweaking out the mixes to our liking. Now I'm pleased to say, the album is finally mixed. The next stages are: mastering, packaging, and then manufacturing. I have to just let it go now. If I keep it here, I'll just tweak it until I go insane!
Check back for updates.
This is going to be a short entry just because I been in front of the computer all day making a BOC page for this website. It's a pretty simple page but it has a lot of info on it regarding my bass gear. The URL is http://www.richiecastellano.com/boc. It's going to take me a few more days to change the rest of the pages so they connect together. For now, it's just kinda floating there on it's own. Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think.
Oh, and if you've never heard the album "Scenes from a memory" by Dream Theater, definitely check it out. I listened to it last night and it kicks total ass.
I'm burnt. Since the last post I've mixed 8 songs for the upcoming Richie Castellano/Andy Ascolese album. I've devoted every minute of free time to mixing. At first I would just mix on my days off, but this last week, I've been waking up early to get some mixing in before I had to go to work. I'm very happy with the mixes we've done. So far we have 11 songs mixed. The album was supposed to be a 14 song album, but we ended up cutting one of the songs that wasn't working. Then, the other day Andy and I were discussing the album and we decided to add 2 more songs that I recorded a while ago. 14 - 1 + 2 = 15 songs. The album is definitely pop/rock sounding on the surface, but be we were noticing a lot of classical influence when we listened to the final mixes. The 2 songs that we added definitely have more of that classical influence. One song is a Bach Invention that I did in a heavy metal style. In some wierd way it fits the album perfectly. The other songs is a really dark tune that is just voice, piano, and cello. I originally wrote it to be on this album, but then cut it because it was too dark. When Andy and I listened to it again a few days ago, Andy convinced me to put it back on the album. As I was mixing the the track list kept growing.
Another interesting thing that happened during mixing was the formation of our sound. As I got back into the swing of mixing, the songs started telling me how they should be mixed. I was concerned about the songs sounding too different, but that is not really an issue any more. A problem I encountered was that the last 8 mixes I did, sound totally different from the first 3. I'll have to go back and just tweak the first 3 when I'm done.
Today I was mixing one of the more challenging songs and it happened. My brain shut off and the ear fatigue kicked in. For a description a ear fatigue check out one of my posts from August. So now I'm taking the next 3 weeks off from mixing, and I go into Blue Oyster Cult mode. I'm really looking forward to the West Coast shows next week. I'm getting all of my new gear together. My new bartolini pickups and electronics came in today. They are going in the new Ibanez bass. I'm also going to be painting the bass some obnoxious color. Hopefully I'll be able to get that started tonight. I'm making some changes to my BOC rig. I'm adding an in-ear monitor system to the rack. I sing a lot of the high harmony parts and I'm hoping that this in-ear monitor system will help me to hear them better. I can't wait to get out there and kick out the jams. : )
Ok, now for the important stuff. The new Star Wars trailer was FUCKING INSANE! I screamed like a 13 year old girl at an N Sync concert when I saw it. It definitely has a lot of spoilers in it, but it's worth checking out. I'm so pumped for this movie.
May The Force Be With You,
Thanks to everyone who came to my birthday party last week. It was crazy, I couldn't believe how many talented people came down and jammed. It was a very cool way to celebrate the quarter of a century.
Ok, I just got a bunch of ideas to write down at once, so I'll try to connect them all...(this should be good)
About 4 months ago, Eric (Bloom) was telling me about this show he saw on TV, it was about Kung Fu. He told me about the intense work out it is and that I should think about trying it. I'm really into martial arts. I was really good at it when I was little. I found this place near my house that teaches Shoalin Kung Fu. I've been doing it for the last few months and it's really cool. During one of the lessons, Sifu (master) was telling us about clutter. We keep things with us that just take up space in our homes and brains. That led to a cleaning kick. I've been cleaning like crazy to remove brain clutter. I think it's been working. One thing remains...the album. Ok, so I haven't been in this wicked hurry to mix the album that Andy and I recorded. I could try to come up with a reason, but it wouldn't be adequate. Thanks to Sifu, I realize that I need to remove this album from my brain and my hard drive. BOC goes back on the road in less than a month. Hopefully I'll be able to finish mixing before I go out. I can't wait to go out on the west coast run. I think it's gonna be great playing that many shows back to back. Until then, I'm gonna have to try to focus on getting this album done. I think that the Kung Fu is helping me improve my focus and concentration. Hopefully it will come in handy while I'm mixing. Next week I'm getting my first promotion to the rank of purple sash. Traditional Kung Fu doesn't really have ranks, but Sifu thinks it's a good way to track our progress.
So far I've mixed 3 songs for the album. It's been strange because there's no formula to it. Most albums I mix have a loose template to work with. I mix the first song and that kind of governs the way I mix the rest. This one's different. I think the challenge comes from the approach Andy and I took toward this album. I think that instead of putting our effort into sounding like a band, we put the emphasis on making the songs sound good. Unlike my other albums, these songs are more similar to eachother, but we played and sang differently from song to song. Also, our plan to mix this album over 2 computers has turned out to be impractical. Although we got the 2 computer setup to work, there were still latency issues and processor power problems. We scratched that idea and moved everything back to one computer. The problem with this is that now I have to go back and bounce stuff to fit on one version of pro tools. There was a lot of work that should have been done before that we didn't do because we worked under the assumption that the 2 computer setup would make our jobs easier, when in fact it did the exact opposite. For example, most of the songs have 13 drum tracks, 4 bass tracks, and 16 vocal tracks. That's simply too much for one version of pro tools LE to handle. Before I do every mix, I have to do a series of pre mixes. These pre mixes can take up to 2 days to finish. What makes them so time consuming is that you have to guess how these parts will sound within the context of the finished mix. If I make good guesses, the mix goes smoothly. If I guess wrong, It can take up to a week to finish a song because I have to backtrack several times.
That's the story for now. I must go now and mold young minds in ways of shred.
Lots of stuff to cover here. First and most importantly. Thanks to everyone for coming out to the Blue Oyster Cult shows this weekend. We did 5 shows in 3 days, it was more ROCK than most people could handle. All 5 shows were a lot of fun. At BB kings I got to use my new bass which leads me to the next thing...
I recently came back from the NAMM show. I was hunting for 5 string basses. My Lakland is great but the neck is a bit too wide for me to play live. I love the sound of it so I'm gonna make that the studio bass. After feeling up every 5 string bass neck at the show I came to the conclusion that every 5 string bass has a similar neck width. The problem wasn't with my bass, but with my small hands. The ONLY 5 string basses at the show with thinner necks were the Ibanez basses. I ordered one of those, and played it this weekend and it felt great. The bass is a SR-505. I'm gonna make some modifications on it before I bring out on the West Coast run of BOC shows. I'm planning on improving the electronics, and giving it a new paint job.
I'm having a birthday party on Saturday, February 12 at dock street bar and grill at 8:30 PM. EVERYONE is invited. My cover band Hit Me With It is going to play along with a bunch of my very talented friends. I'm gonna be turning 25. The last time I had a brithday party was for my 20th, and we did a similar type of jam party and it was really cool.
I recently sang a jingle for coffeemate. I'm not sure when or where it will air, but it came out really well. If you see a coffeemate comercial with a really breathy lead vocal that sounds like me, that's probably the one : )
That's it for now. Hopefully I'll get to see evryone at the party at Dock Street on the 12th.
I don't usually write about anything too "deep" in the deep thoughts section, but this time I will make an exception.
My grandfather passed away yesterday evening. I want to write some stuff about him for the people who didn't have privilege of knowing him.
His name was Phil Castellano Sr., but I called him Pop. He was one of a kind. He was a father, grandfather, musician, photographer, and businessman. In the time when swing was considered to be popular music, he was a busy working musician. He was an upright bass player who played a righty strung bass lefty. There were a lot of things about him that were like this. He has his own way of doing things, and that's why I think he was such an interesting person.
His father, Frank, was a multi-instrumentalist who played violin, guitar and bass to name a few. When he got his first gigs on bass, my grandfather had to "borrow" his dad's bass. (This has become a pretty common practice in my family. I'm still using my uncle's bass to play BOC gigs!) One day he decided that his dad's bass didn't look too good, so he traded it for a cheaper bass in a nicer color. I assumed his father was pretty upset with him about this by the way he used to tell me the story. He would have this mischievous giggle between sentences.
My grandfather was what you could call a road warrior. He had tons of stories about all the gigs he played. He told me about the weddings he played with his small group. He said that once the party would get drunk enough they'd start to make up their own words to popular tunes, inserting profanity where they saw fit. I remember once I was hanging out with him, and I was playing some standard on guitar. He jumped in with all the "modified" lyrics, then he proceeded to tell me the whole story. It was really funny.
His band also caught the attention of some famous entertainers. He told me a story about his band rehearsing and Victor Borge walking in and giving them great compliments. He was also involved with the USO performances and he got the opportunity to play with Jimmy Durante. My grandfather even got to be part of the "shtick" when Jimmy Durante went up to him during the show and threw his charts all over the place.
Like most musicians, he had to eventually get a "real job." Among those jobs were, taking photographs of drug busts for the government, and owning and operating a local candy store in Brooklyn. The turning point came in the 60s when my father had an incident at a local music store. When he told my grandfather about what happened, my grandfather decided to open up his own music store. And so, Bath Music was born.
He and my grandmother Marion worked in that store for the rest of their lives. During that time they were the shining stars of the neighborhood, and acted as home base for local musicians. Being a working musician himself, my grandfather knew the deal. He knew that musicians don't need help from 9 to 5, but they might need help at midnight. He and my grandmother lived in the apartment above the store and frequently opened their doors after hours to help out musicians with "gig" emergencies. What other music store could you go to at 1 AM when your PA blows up at a nightclub?
As much as I'd love to go into detail on the history, I wouldn't do it justice. I really want to talk about the man I knew. Pop was by far, the most eccentric man I'd ever known. No one understood his lifestyle, or his quirks with the exception of my grandmother. He had a dark sense of humor which made him terribly funny. He could say the most fucked up things and you couldn't help but laugh. He was a shrewd businessman in his music store. Here's an example: When I was 9 or 10, my first electric guitar was a telecaster. It was way too heavy for me, so I brought it to him to trade it in. He traded me a much lighter guitar, and ended up making 50 bucks off the trade.
When I first became interested in music, Pop did everything he could to discourage me. When ever I'd play for him, he'd either tell me to shut up, or hand me a broom and tell me to become a sanitation worker. Keep in mind that I was 12 when he told me this. Whenever I would write a song, I would show it to him. He'd rip the song apart and tell me why it was terrible, and then he would go on about how good my father's songs were. A few years later, I found out that he'd say the same thing to my father about his songs. That was Pop's way. It only became obvious to me as an adult. As a kid, I just thought he was a cranky guy who made me laugh a lot. As I got older I realized he was a deeply caring person who really knew how to teach valuable lessons.
Did Pop want me to become a sanitation worker? Probably. He knew that sanitation workers make good money and get good benefits. But he was also testing me. He had this Mr. Miyagi/Yoda-like quality about him. When one decides to become a musician, they usually have no clue about how difficult it is, and how much rejection they'll face. That's why pop would do the things he did. He wanted to see if I was really committed. It took me 10 years to prove to him that I was. Only then, would he really tell me about music. Only then, would he tell me what he really thought. It makes me think of the Pai Mei scene from Kill Bill 2. Once the ego is broken, then learning can begin. I was amazed to discover how passionate he was about music. When I was 14, I'd go to his store and plug in to an amp and try to show off for him. It would never take him long to tell me "turn that thing off!" But, when I was 19, he would tell me "turn it up!" When I was younger, Pop would tell me that I was a rotten guitar player. When I was older Pop let me listen to Django Reinhardt. When Pop showed me Django I was convinced...I was a rotten guitar player : )
For me, hearing Django play will instantly bring me back to my grandfather. Pop never actually gave me music assignments like, 'Go listen to Django's version of Sweet Georgia Brown, transcribe it and then we will begin musical discussion.' He would just talk about Django in the same way I would talk about the Beatles. Just from the facial expressions he would make while listening to Django, I knew that this was important stuff that I needed to learn.
When I reached my 20s, I actually had the chops to pull some of the Django stuff off. I would play it for him and that made him really happy. No matter how bad things might have been going for him, when I would play Django for him, everything else would go away. This is something special that we had. Because I'd taken the time to learn the Django stuff note for note, I think I had just begun to understand Pop. Certain notes and phrases would get various emotions out of an otherwise stoic man. Once I understood the music, I understood the man who loved the music so much.
This is a picture of my grandfather and me. It was taken in 1998 at the Friar's Club in New York City. This was at an awards ceremony for the songwriter's Hall of Fame. I'm holding the first place award for a song I wrote.
I'm going to miss my grandfather very much. I feel that I have just begun to scratch the surface with all the things he's been trying to teach me. I think I will understand better as I get older. Even though he's gone, I still have Django's music. Even today while learning "Nuages" in honor of Pop, I felt as if he was sitting right next to me cringing with the wrong notes and smiling with the right ones.
I love ya Pop,
Today's topic is Massively Multiplayer Online Role playing Games (MMORPGs). I've developed somewhat of an unhealthy addiction to them. In the few weeks alone, I bought 2 new MMORPGs. For those of you who may not know what these are, let me explain. A role playing game is simply a game that is driven by character creation and development. In a regular video game, you start off as this super being with awesome powers. In a role playing game, you start off as an average person, and you develop your character into a super hero. The first popular RPG was Dungeons & Dragons. This was not a video game, but rather a pencil and paper game that would take place in the imaginations of the players. I've played Dungeons & Dragons with pencil and paper. When you get with a bunch of really creative people, the game can be very challenging and a lot of fun. When you play with jackasses, the game can be really stupid, and silly. Once RPGs went to video games, we didn't have to think as much anymore. All of the math was done by the computer. We no longer had to roll dice to see how much damage we would inflict to an opponent. Now the computer would automatically randomly generate numbers for us. We no longer had to imagine the rich worlds around us. Now we had 8 bit graphics of games like Zelda to tell us exactly where we were an what we were looking at. RPG were no longer an open ended adventure, now you were playing a role in a script that had been written to end a specific way.
As computers got better, so did the video RPGs. Now the environments started to look more believable. Some of your actions and decisions affected the outcome of the game. Games like Knights of The Old Republic and Fable are examples of this by providing various endings determined by what your character does throughout the game.
In recent years, as online technology has improved, MMORPGs have become possible. A MMORPG is a game that thousands of players can play at once. Instead playing in a relatively small computer environment, you are playing in giant worlds containing numerous areas. In some cases, you can have multiple worlds in a game. The problem is that you can't enforce a storyline on this many people in this big of a space. How can you write a story that thousands, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of people can play a specific role? It's impossible. In this respect, MMORPGs have brought role playing games full circle. For the first time in years, players have to create their own stories again. The only problem is that these are the same people who have been playing video RPGs for the past 20 years. These were games that didn't require you to be creative. For the past 20 years, you had to play a story that was "spoon-fed" to you. Now, there's no story, just an empty canvas. It's just like pencil and paper RPGs, except now, the computer is your pencil and paper.
The first MMORPG I played was Star Wars Galaxies. In the beginning it was great. There was a sense of community as we explored the giant space provided for us by the game's developers. No one was sure quite how big the game was. It was a great feeling. You had to group with other players in order to explore the planets. But then that all changed. Enough players bitched to the point where the developers added Points Of Interest, which gave you the exact location of every landmark in the game. On top of that, they gave all the players speeder bikes so you could speed right through all the environments without any risk of being attacked. This made this massive environment seem very small very fast. This made the game incredibly lame. Since players no longer needed eachother to survive, all sense of community was lost. Players would no longer role play. No one spoke in character anymore. Everyone treated the game like a job. The only goal was to become more powerful than other players. No one was quite sure what they would do when they became the most powerful, but they just new that they had to get there.
I got fed up with Galaxies and then tried a game set in a comic book setting called City of Heroes. This was a great game with a better sense of community. The main goal was to form a super group with other players. The problem was that there was nothing else to do except kill computer generated bad guys. The game did not really allow the players to create their own game. It was a "kill the bad guys" game. That was it. After a few weeks of that, I canceled my subscription.
I went back to Galaxies only to be more frustrated by the lack of community. Everyone was trying to beat the game, without realizing that there was nothing to beat. After a few months of this, they released their first major expansion in which you could fly your own space ship. This was pretty cool, but it was more like an arcade element added to an RPG.
The next game I tried was Everquest 2 which is a game set in the time of knights and magic. I quickly realized that this was the same as Galaxies. The gameplay was identical in that you kill these random bad guys in order to become more powerful. In an act of desperation I bought Ultima Online: Samurai Empire. This is the longest running graphic MMORPG. If this game has lasted so long, it can't be like the others right??? WRONG. Ultima Online is exactly the same which leads me to believe that all MMORPGs are the same. They are simple "kill the bad guys" games set on a huge scale. Player interaction is the key to making these games entertaining. A lot of people have to wrong idea about these games and get overly-competitive with them. Since all these games are the same, I figured I may as well pick one game. I picked Galaxies because I like the Star Wars theme the best.
This brings me to my point. I'm gonna start a loose player association in Galaxies. If you play Galaxies and agree with the stuff I just said, then please E-MAIL ME. Hopefully I'll be able to get a bunch of people together who want to play the same way.
May the force be with you,
It was brought to my attention that there was an unbearable amount of typos on this page. I corrected most of them. I hope this doesn't piss anyone off.
For a typo-free website check out: THESCRO.COM
Hey, it's been a while since I've updated the site. I'll try to cover as much as I can in this entry : )
First for some BOC stuff. Everything is going very well with Blue Oyster Cult. Since the last time I updated this page, a lot has happened. First off, we got a new drummer. We held auditions in October and Jules Radino, formerly of Papa Chubby's band, got the gig. Jules is a great drummer, and a cool guy as well. After the auditions we had a few rehearsals with the band, and a rehearsal with just Jules and me. The shows with Jules have been going really well. A highlight for me was Daytona because I got to see Eric Bloom ride a harley onto the stage. That was fuckin awesome! Right now we have a month off. Our next gig is in Elgin, IL. on December 18. That's gonna be fun because I'm gonna get to see my friend Jarret "Muff" Pressman who lives near there. In January we have a local show at BB King's in NYC. It's on January 28. If anyone wants to go to those shows I'd get the tickets kinda soon. Everyone I speak to says they're going!
Now some gear slut talk. My BOC rig has grown! I decided to go with BOSS effects. I usually like to mix and match different products from different manufacturers, but going with one company for my effects made things easier, cheaper, and neater. I got the new boss pedal board which fits 6 pedals and a tuner. I think it's the BCB-60. It's got an onboard power and audio routing. I'm gonna attempt to describe all the effects and how I use them in the show:
My old wireless just took a dump, so I just got an Audio Technica 4000 series. This wireless sounds great and works great. There's actually some tone from the instrument coming through which is something that a lot of wireless systems can't do. I also got custom picks made. They are dunlop .88mm tortex.
The big news about my BOC rig is the new bass that was just shipped to me. I should be getting it sometime next week. I'll put pictures up. I haven't seen it or played it yet, but I'm guessing it's a Lakland 55-02 in a translucent honey sunburst color. It's going to have bartolini electronics and a maple fretboard. I can't wait to play it.
Here's an update on the Castellano/Ascolese project. I had been mixing the album and getting nowhere. I did about 7 mixes of the first song and was unhappy with all of them. The problem was processing power. Everytime I got close to what I wanted I'd run out of processing power. Our new dual computer setup was actually making things worse instead of better. With 40+ tracks per song we tried to split the load up between 2 computers. We didn't bounce anything to to fewer tracks, we kept everything separate. This was a mistake because every track needed to be processed. Even though we had 2 computers sharing the load, they all had to be routed through my mac and that just made things run really crappy. Andy and I discussed this and we decided to go back to our normal way of mixing. We're gonna do bounces of major groups, and mix with fewer tracks. Hopefully this will speed up the process and be less of a strain on the computer.
Speaking of computers, part of the reason I haven't updated this site was that my PC crashed. I usually write the deep thoughts on that computer. I had a bunch of them ready to go and then it crashed. This crash fucked me up really bad. Here's how it all happened....
I went to game stop one day and purchased Everquest 2. Eric and I have been talking about this game and I was very excited to try it. I went home and installed the game. I got an error message saying that me graphics card was not up to snuff. I then called up some of my buddies who are hardware savvy and got their opinions on what new card I should get. My friend Steve Corn, said to go with the ATI Radeon 9800. At the time they were out of stock everywhere so I ordered 2 of them. One for me one for my father. To make a long story short, after a few weeks of waiting, we got the cards. We also doubled our RAM just in case. We installed the Ram and graphics card in my dad's computer, no problems. My computer on the other hand had major problems. When I would play any 3D game the computer would freeze. I went to ATI's website. They recommended that I install windows service pack 2. I did as they instructed. Windows service pack 2 ROYALLY FUCKED UP MY COMPUTER. It got so bad that I had to do an emergency run to Scro's house that night to format the hard drive and re-install windows. I stayed up until 7 am re-installing everything. When I tried to play a 3D game, same problem. How could this be? Instead of messing around with this for another week or so, I decided to call ATI's tech support line. I spoke to 3 different people who told me to do 3 different things then call back. After reinstalling drivers and opening up the computer a bunch of times, they came to the conclusion that my power supply was not adequate. I drove to Auto Exec computers (operated by Vinny Vertire) to get a new power supply. I went home, installed it and I was getting the same bullshit. ATI said that power supply wasn't any good so I had to go back and forth to Vinny again. The second time, I just got fed up and drove to best buy and exchanged the ATI for the equivalent Nvidia card. I was sure this was going to work. I went home, installed the card, and that same freezing problem happened again. I went back to the store and re-exchanged the Nvidia for the ATI (confused yet?) and brought everything to Vinny. He replaced my motherboard and started from scratch and fixed my computer. THANK YOU VINNY. YOU ROCK!!!!
So now that my computer is working, let me tell you a little bit about Everquest 2 or Evercrack 2 as the gamers call it. Everquest 2 is set in the time of wizards, elfs and knights. It's kind of like a lord of the rings thing. Eric got me interested in it. Ever since he stopped playing Star Wars Galaxies I wanted to find another game that we could play online together. So far Eric, My Father, Tony Hanson from the band Fenix Down, and me are playing. They game looks and sounds amazing. It's similar to Galaxies in the way you play. It's made by the same company as Galaxies. The game works way better. There is no lag. I played galaxies for about a year. In that year I spent all my time staring at my characters ass. My character was a trandoshan reptile-man. This time I did it right. If I'm gonna have to stare at an ass for another year, it's gonna be a nice ass. My new character is named Giaa, and SHE's a female wood-elf (huh huh.) Check her out here. Giaa is a druid which is a kind of healer. She uses all kinds of cool magic spells and she's got this sick sword. Oh yeah, and she's hot. I made her look like Angelina Jolie. That's why I called her Giaa.
On the subject of people with magical powers, I saw the Chick Corea Elektric band 2 weeks ago. They were AMAZING as usual. Frank Gambale is one of the best guitar players I've ever seen.
Damn I hate typing. Check back for more later.
Week 2 of BOC MADNESS!!!!!
Hey, I just spent the last 7 days playing with Blue Oyster Cult! Aside from having to constantly pinch myself to make sure it was real, it was AWESOME. Thursday we played in Glenside, PA at this cool theater with UFO, Friday we played in Albany, NY at an awesome rock club, Saturday we played at the Hampton Beach Casino in New Hampshire, and Sunday we played the Starland Ballroom in Sayerville, NJ. All the gigs were a complete blast, but Sunday was a little extra-special because my father came up and jammed with us on "Don't Fear The Reaper." Once again, I have to say that meeting the true Blue Oyster Cult fans after the shows was a real treat. It's nice to see that people are really enthusiastic about music, especially great rock music.
Unfortunately, Sunday was Bobby Rondinelli's last BOC gig. Over the last 4 years I've become good friends with Bobby. He's a hell of a guy, and an amazing musician. I told him the other day that I adopted him as my crazy uncle : ). I'm gonna miss Bobby.
On Monday we held drummer auditions, all the guys we're good, but one of them was the right guy for the band. His name is Jules and he rocks. We rehearsed with him on Tuesday and Wednesday (today.) He did a great job playing the songs. I'm looking forward to next Saturday's show.
A lot of people have been asking me questions about the bass I've been playing on the BOC gigs. I finally found a name on the bass under the bridge! It's a David King bass. It's really cool. The bass seems to be oil finished with 2 single coil EMGs in a J-bass configuration. It's really light, and balanced. The bass belongs to my Uncle Phil. Unfortunately for me, my uncle has plenty of gigs of his own to play, so I can't keep borrowing the bass. I'll be able to borrow the bass for the next few gigs, but I after that I'll need my own bass for the BOC gigs in the months to come. I went to various music stores to try out basses. My favorite was definitely the Lakland 5 string. I should have a new 55-02 shipped to me in a few weeks. I'll put some pics and specs up when I get it.
I'd like to thank Kira for the following pictures from saturday's Blue Oyster Cult show:
(click an image to see a larger version)
Thanks Kira, YOU ROCK!!!!
What a friggin week!!!! I gotta run to work in a few minutes, but I couldn't leave home today without putting something up here. I guess I'll try to do a quick recap of the last week.
Sunday morning, my phone woke me up. Someone was saying something about playing bass. After about 30 seconds of my brain scrambling to comprehend the phone call, I realized that it was Eric Bloom on the phone asking me if I could play bass with Blue Oyster Cult in less than a week. Of course I said "Absolutely." He then left me a voice mail with 15 songs to learn. That day I went to the recital rehearsal for all my students at the music store. After a pretty intense day of rehearsal with the kids, I went home and got to work. I worked from about 7 PM to 3 AM learning these 15 songs. Since I've been the substitute sound engineer for BOC over the last 4 years, a lot of the songs were in my head. I was basically practicing fingerings and stuff like that. The next day I taught lessons till 7:30, when I got home I told Eric I learned those songs. He gave me 3 more songs to learn. So now there are 18 songs to get down in 4 days. That night I practiced from 9 PM to 4 AM. Tuesday was the hardcore practice day for me. I practiced all day. My focus was on the vocals. I called Donald "Buck Dharma" Roseur on the phone to clarify some of the harmony parts over the phone. I practiced till about 1 AM, then I literally fell asleep with the bass in my hand. Wednesday I had to go buy appropriate attire for the show since most of what I own doesn't match : ) I got home at like 8 PM and practiced till 5 AM. Thursday, I taught lessons all day, then went home to do a final practice session for the gigs. I didn't go to sleep till 6 AM. I woke up at 7 AM and took a cab to the airport. On the plane ride to Buffalo, I listened to the songs. I did this just clarify any uncertainty I may have had about the arrangements. In the van on the way to the hotel Bobby Rondinelli and I discussed what we were gonna do for the bass solo. The rain was really bad at the venue so the gig had to be canceled because it was outdoors. We got together in Buck's hotel room and ran through the songs. It was crazy. Buck played his Martin Backpacker guitar, Bobby played his drumsticks on the arm of a chair, I plugged the bass into the television, and Eric and Allen Lanier sang their guitar and keyboard parts. We sat there and went through all 18 songs in a row. It went very smoothly. The main focus of the meeting was to figure out who was singing what. It was actually a lot of fun. The bass sounded really crazy coming out of the TV!!! The next day we flew to Vegas. We did a sound check and that also went really well. Buck and Steve "Woody" LaCerra (sound engineer) helped me get a bass sound for the show. At 8PM we played the show. It was INCREDIBLE!!!! I can't tell you how much fun it was to play with these guys. Words just wouldn't do it justice. It was an amazing feeling. I was very happy to see that real deal BOC fans were happy with the show. After the show I got the chance to meet a lot of BOC fans, and they treated me really well. They are really cool people and they seemed to be very enthusiastic about the show : )
I got home yesterday at 11 PM. I'm still freaking out from the show. It was a great experience. I gotta run to work now and tell my students about it. If I can find some pictures from the show, I'll put em up here.
I'll be playing again with BOC this weekend as well. Check out the gigs page for dates. I'll post more info as soon as I get it.
I'd just like to say thanks to everyone in the band and everyone who came to the show for making this weekend completely ROCK!!!!!
After a few rough weeks, I'm pleased to say that I finished my first mix from the new album. I was hoping to have this done a few weeks ago, but there were way too many obstacles to let that happen. I can usually mix about 2 or 3 songs a day depending on the nature of the song. For the stuff I did for CMH, I was able to mix up to 5 songs a day because most of the songs were recorded in the same session. This is album is a completely different story. These songs have way more tracks than anything I've ever mixed before. Each instrument can occupy multiple tracks which are combined to make one sound. On top of that my computer is struggling with the amount of processing I'm doing. I've done 3 mixes of the first song, and they've each taken about a day and a half to do. Now that I'm back in the swing of things I hope that I can get the other songs done in a day each. The main problem with that is that I'm mixing at home, and there are constant interruptions. Today was the first day I had completely to myself, and the results were really great. Yesterday I woke up and got right to work. I mixed from 11:30 to 6:30 then went out to dinner with my family. I got back at 10 and mixed for two more hours. This morning I woke up at 10 and mixed until 1 PM. At that point the mix was done. The rest of the day was spent tweaking the minor nuances to my liking.
I'm usually very technically minded about most things, but I had to rethink my entire philosophy about sound in order to get the first song done. This is gonna sound pretty silly, but I kept saying things like: "A snare drum's job ... is to be a snare drum. Only then will it exist with the other instruments." It's a totally ridiculous thing to say, but it helped me. I also read this article by the guy who mixed the Outkast album. He said something like, 'Let the song tell you how it should be mixed.' Although that statement may sound far-out, I can totally relate to it. It's as if the mix is part of the song, equally as important as the song structure, melody and lyrics. If any of the components aren't right, the song is fucked.
Another thing I had to do is get other people out of my head. I found that when I showed a mix to specific people, I would think about the mix differently. I kinda tried to hear it from their perspective. For example, when I show a mix to Scro, I'll think "I wonder if the tambourine is too thin..." or, "Are these drums big enough?" When I'd show a mix to Andy I'd think, "Can I hear the articulation in the toms? Did I go too crazy with the guitars?" When I show a mix to Kuffner I think, "Does this sound too cheezy? Did I use enough bass?" So my first mix of the song had a thick tambourine, with big drums, loud annoying toms, no reverb and too much bass. It wasn't a mix, it was a mess. I was trying to please everyone, and that was the wrong thing to do. I had to convince myself that you can't please everyone. Once I got all my friends and their ideas about sound out of my head, I was able to think clearly and make myself happy with the mix. If there was one ultimate way of making music that everyone agreed with, there would be no diversity. I like to think that the Beatles did everything perfect, but the truth is that there are people that HATE the Beatles, and that proves that you can't make everyone happy. You just gotta do your thing and hope for the best.
I'd like to thank everyone who came to Dock Street on the 24th. It was an amazing night. We did the whole album Rubber Soul by the Beatles. Click here for a clip. If that wasn't cool enough, Eric Bloom, the lead singer of Blue Oyster Cult came down and played "Cities on Flame" with us, it totally rocked. He is such a cool guy. We're playing again tomorrow, 9/7, although I don't know how the hell we're gonna top that. : )
Here's an update. One of my computers crashed, and I had to replace the entire hard drive. Set me back about a week. I finished my first mix yesterday, but I went a little overboard....ok A LOT OVERBOARD. I listened to it in my car, and it had too much of everything.
Now to describe what ear fatigue feels like:
Imagine if sound was two cones. Now imagine if those two cones were slowly rammed into your ears. Now think about those two cones being shoved so far into your ears where they touch eachother at the center of your head causing a massive headache. That's ear fatigue. you wont get ear fatigue from a two hour concert. Usually tinitus kicks in first. Ear fatigue happens when you intensely concentrate on sounds at relatively low volumes for an extended period of time. You actually strain your brain to the point where nothing sounds right. It got so bad the other night that Shania Twain's voice sounded like it was coming through a bull horn. Weird.
I been on this crazy Samurai kick. I've watched 3 samurai movies this week. I watched Akira Kurosawa's version of King Lear which is called Ran. I watched another Kurosawa movie called Yojimbo which stars my new favorite actor, Toshiro Mifune. I'm currently watching a movie called "Shogun's Samurai" with Sonny Chiba (from kill bill), Toshiro Mifune, and Hiroyuki Sanada (from the last samurai). So far it rocks.
Tomorrow night at Dock Street is gonna be action packed! I don't want to give away the surprise, but I just spent all night practicing for tomorrow.
Check out the hitmewithit page for a cool clip of us doing Hocus Pocus.
Having a weird couple of days here. Right now I'm watching Karate Kid in the hopes that Mr. Miyagi will have answers for me.
Tracking for the Castellano/Ascolese album is officially DONE. Big thanks to Fenix Studios for all their amazing help. That's definitely a place worth checking out if you're looking for a good recording studio. I went there to trigger some drum samples. The engineer used a program called drumagog which is a plug in for Nuendo. I was very impressed with Nuendo, and I'm starting to think it may be cooler than Pro Tools. I'm biased against pro tools today because I spent the whole day banging my head against the computer screen on account of pro tools. In order to please their TDM and HD customers who spend $6000 and up on a pro tools system, pro tools limits the amount of tracks available to their LE customers who spend under $2000. I'm only able to record 32 tracks with my current pro tools setup. I think this is really stupid considering I was able to run 40 track sessions on my old single processor G3 Mac using Cubase. Digidesign, the company who makes pro tools, also locks out certain features like surround sound mixing to LE users citing insufficient processing power as the reason. In the age of dual processor machines, the "insufficient processing power" excuse is complete bullshit. They know that their high paying customers will complain if you can get a system with the exact same features for thousands less. This is the reason, not insufficient processing power. While I'm venting, I may as well mention the fact that since I'm an OS 9 user, they're screwing me by making all their new products and software run on OSX only grrr. I know that I will eventually need to upgrade my operating system, but I kinda feel like I'm being forced to do it. Anyway, I had to link together 2 pro tools systems to get enough tracks to mix the album. It's pretty cool having 2 computers in sync, but it's also beat because I'm only doing that to get like 8 extra tracks : (
The big prediction is 2 months till the albums out, but please don't hold me to it if it takes longer : )
This guy named Ralph sent me an awesome picture from the night I jammed with Blue Oyster Cult at TOADS. The picture is courtesy of "Crack Danny" from the Buck Dharma Talk Exchange:
Eric Bloom, Me, Allen Lanier, Buck Dharma
HUGE THANKS to Ralph and "Crack Danny!"
Yo! The last few weeks I've been updating my studio. I got rid of lots of crap. The thought of spending any more time in the old studio was not very appealing. I figured before I mix my album, I might as well change things around. The album is finished with the exception of a few last minute tracks. I hope to start mixing in 2 weeks. The mixdown is going to be pretty complicated considering that we're going to sync a Mac to a PC to get 64 tracks in pro tools. I've done sync before, but never with a Mac and a PC.
The tuesdays at dock street have been great. Thanks to everyone for showing up. It feels great to be playing rock music again.
I'm gonna make an effort to update this site more frequently in the future.
I hope lots of people read this because I'm in deep shit. I was updating my Palm Pilot software and for some reason it reverted back to an archive from 2001, and erased my current files. This means I have no appointments or phone numbers that I received after 2001. I'm not so worried about the schedule as I am the phone and e-mail contacts. If you think I should have your contact info, PLEASE e-mail me with your number and I will re-enter it into the computer. Even if you're not sure if you gave me your info before 2001, e-mail me anyway.
After being on a roll with the album, I got sick for 2 weeks, and we had to take a break. Now Andy's trying to finish up work on Dana Emily's album so the break has been extended. As of now, all the keyboards are done. Now we gotta go back and fix some of the vocal things that are bugging the shit out of me. More good news...I've had this piece of glass stuck in my thumb for about a month now. I'm going to the surgeon to cut it out tomorrow. It's my left thumb, so I don't anticipate it will affect my playing.
The Dock Street Tuesdays are back with a vengance. Last tuesday's gig kicked major ass. I think this summer is going to be fun.
Getting sick of Galaxies, so I feel like writing something.
We had the official annual Hit Me With It rehearsal marathon on wednesday. It feels soooo good to rock out again. I'm very excited about playing with Andy Graziano again. It's funny, because most time when Chris, Andy A, and me bring someone into our thing, it tends to cause problems. The 3 of us have been playing together for so long that we have a certain way of doing things. Andy Graziano is the only exception to this. Me and him go way back as well, so at this rehearsal, it just felt good. He fit right in. There were no communication errors. We got a lot accomplished considering the difficult music we're attempting.
That's all for now.
Here's an album update. Our soon to be titled album, from our soon to be titled band is nearing completion. Last week we finished all the lead vocal tracks, today (actually yesterday) we finished the background vocals for 4 songs. The album will have 14 songs on it. I don't want to guess a completion date, but for those of you who may actually give a crap about this, you wont have to wait much longer.
Hit Me With It will be back in action at Dock Street Starting Tuesday, May 25. We will be splitting the bill with a band called Julius C. Then starting on Tuesday, June 1st, we will be playing there every other week throughout the summer. On the nights we aren't there, Julius C will be performing. The new line-up is Myself, Andy Ascolese, Chris Kuffner, and (drum roll please *********) Andy Graziano. This lineup will produce a rock that will be un-paralleled by all other rock. I can't wait.
On Friday Night I got see Blue Oyster Cult at TOADS in New Haven, CT. To my surprise, they called me up on stage to sit in for their last song. It was fuckin awesome! I was freaking out! It was the coolest thing ever. They called me up for a smokin' cover of "Ain't Got You. Once again I must stress that it was FUCKIN AWESOME!!!!
Here's a pic that Johnny Spo took with his cell phone during the concert. It's low res, but you can see what's going on...
This is me playing Eric Bloom's SG on the left with Allen Lanier on the Right. (fuckin awesome!!!)
On a more geeky note, I used my new rig (/sigh) on 2 cheezy gigs. It worked really good. I can't wait for dock street so I can crank that shit, and make it scream. Even though I had to be restrained in my rocking, the rig worked great. My design worked perfectly and allowed me to get any sound needed rather quickly. The in-ear monitors worked out great too. I'm gonna need a new wah soon. My vox is crapping out, maybe I'll get that dime bag wah with the sweepable EQ.
I'm finally re-hauling this site. There's gonna be less sections, with more content. As of now, this site is officially under construction. I want to put more emphasis on multi-media (more music and videos.) I'm also going to make the site easier for me to update in an effort to keep the site updated more frequently. With the design of the current site, I need to enter data in 4 different places for me to update one piece of info. That's all gonna change shortly. Learning flash is the missing key I've been looking for.
And now, a picture of my new rig:
Pedal Board Description:
I actually came up with the idea for this rig about 4 years ago. It took me that long to dream it up, and save up for it.
I just started learning flash from Damian Scro. I think it's awesome. Check out the main page www.richiecastellano.com to see my first flash movie.
The song is from an album that I was making during college. I ultimately canned the song, but I always liked the solo section. That song has a working title of "When The Party Ends." It's me on guitar and bass, Andy Ascolese on Hammond Organ, and Nadav Snir on drums.
Look out for more flash stuff in the near future.
To anyone who still reads this thing, please accept my apologies. I've been rather inactive in updating this site, but all for good reasons. Andy Ascolese and I are working feverishly on this album we're making. I'm SOOO tempted to put a clip up, but I wanna wait till the stuff is more complete. We've been doing it one instrument at a time, rather than one song at a time. In other words, we did drums and rhythm guitars first for all the songs, then added bass for all the songs, then lead guitars etc... At this point we're about 3 songs into the lead vocals.
We set up a not-so isolated vocal booth in my basement by putting a bunch of winter coats up around the mike in a storage area. The only problem is anytime someone flushes a toilet we have to stop because the plumbing is very loud down here (hehehe.) I've been doing lead vocals. It's been way more fun than I thought it was gonna be. It's been a while since I took myself seriously as a lead singer. I'm really excited for people to hear this stuff because my voice sounds way different (and I think way better) than it did on "Alone In My Basement" or the Progeny album.
Quick Story. The other day Andy and I are in the basement recording vocals. I'm singing in the back room surrounded by coats,a and Andy is in the control room. Andy goes on my computer and downloads the Arnold Schwartzenegger sample from the movie "Kindergarten Cop" and starts sending them through the talkback into my headphones. I asked Andy, "how did that sound?" and then I heard Arnold reply "STOP WHINING!" I fell on the floor laughing. Then he started playing the rest of the samples in my headphones. I laughed so hard that I blew my pipes out and I had to take a break from recording.
now I will use bold print for the following announcement:
2 WEEKS AGO, I FINALLY GOT MY VHT AMP!!!!!!! WOOO HOOOO
It's fucking beautiful. 3 channel all tube pre-amp with MIDI control. There's a very low power amp built into the pre-amp so you can beat the shit out of that tube to get the cranked amp feel at low volumes. I went totally broke by ordering other shit to supplement it and complete my rig. I got the "road king" pedal board by the DC case company which is the biggest one they make. The funny thing is that I only use 3 pedals, but they take up a lot of space. I also got some custom wiring done for my rack by CBI cables. After years of day dreaming and drawing pictures of this rig in my notebooks, it's finally complete. Ironically I have no gigs scheduled. So I have this beautiful amp sitting there waiting to be rocked upon!
I did however get to use the amp on some of our guitar tracks. I can;t wait for everyone to hear it! Oh what the heck...
Click here for a quick sample of my new rig in action on our new album!
Since I can only record until 10 here, I have had no choice but to play Star Wars Galaxies from 10 PM to 3AM every night. : ).
Here's a fairly recent shot:
This is a small group of friends I frequently play with. We call ourselves the imperial gigtroopers because we're all musicians. From left to right we have Tony from Fenix Down, my father John, me, Eric from BOC, Bill and Damian from 13th Alibi.
May The Dark Force Be With You.
Long Live The Emperor,
Scro and I sat in on two martial arts classes today in the city. We saw an Iaido class and a Kendo class. It was very cool. Iaido is the art of drawing a samurai sword, dispensing your enemy, then putting the sword away in a fluid motion. Kendo is competition style sparring with bamboo swords called shanai(sp?). I loved the Kendo, but I'm afraid I might be too duck footed to do it. They let me participate on the lesson today, and I could barely keep my feet straight. I'm gonna check out Jujitsu next.
I omitted most of the last Deep Thoughts post. It was late when I wrote it and it read too much like a journal entry. This page is supposed to be about random shit, not my personal feelings.
I basically gave a long winded explanation on why I haven't completed my album. Rather than dwell on the past, I'd rather look to the future. Ascolese and I are doing undoubtedly the best work we've ever done together on our album. I can't wait to show it to people!
Anyone know of a good place to study martial arts on Staten island? I wanna get back into it, but I don't know where to go.
I feel like such a nerd. I haven't had a chance to update this site cuz' I've been playing Star Wars Galaxies every chance I get. While I was in Germany it was all I could think about! Now that I'm home my schedule has been like this. Wake up, play Galaxies, go to work, go to the studio, go to sleep. So all of the leisure time I have is devoted to this dumb game. I'll give a quick update on that, then I'll talk about the real world...
In order to become a Jedi in Galaxies you need to master other professions that are secretly and randomly selected by the computer when you create your character. I think that you need to master 5 professions before you can unlock your force sensitive slot. Once you unlock this slot, you can create a character who has that potential to become a jedi. There are these crystals in the game called holocrons that reveal one of the secret professions you must master in order to follow the path to jedi goodness. I got my first holocron the other day and it told me to become a master entertainer!!!! WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?! I play this stupid video game to do something that doesn't relate to music and now I have to play music in the game in order to advance. This is some ironic shit.
Now for things that happen in the real world. Andy Ascolese and I spent most of last week in the studio recording the rhythm tracks for our album. We just recorded drums and rhythm guitar live at the same time. We played so hard that over 4 days of recording I broke 7 strings and Andy broke 6 sticks. Since I had to work during the day, the majority of these sessions started in the evening and went till about 5 in the morning. It was nuts, but we're really happy with the results.
Germany was friggin awesome. There's really too much to tell. The shows went really well, everyone involved with the tour was very cool. The opening band Fireball Ministry were cool, and hanging with Blue Oyster Cult and Uriah Heep was a real treat. This was my first real first class tour. There were tour busses with bunks, really nice hotels, catering, a huge production rig which we carried with us, and a crew to set all that stuff up every day. We did 13 shows all around Germany. I was pretty much in a different city. Some of the highlights of the trip for me were:
1 - Going to see MOTORHEAD in Munich with Bobby and Danny from BOC. We got to hang with Motorhead on their tour bus and in their dressing room. They were really awesome guys. Then we got to watch the show while standing on stage right next to the band.
2 - Learning the songs from "A Mighty Wind" with Buck, then playing them before every show in the dressing room.
3 - Going to see Lord Of The Rings with Eric in Stutgart.
4- Eating at McDonalds.
I'll give more details as I remember em.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
So I'm leaving for Germany this afternoon, and all I can think about is a bass guitar that apparently doesn't exist! I've been playing lots of club date gigs on bass, and I've been borrowing a bass from my uncle Phil to do them. I think it's time I got my own bass already. I have a fantastic Rickenbacker 4001 from the 70's, but its range is limited to rock. I need an overall good sounding bass that'll work for anything. My favorite sounding bass is a P-bass with passive pickups. The natural sound of that bass just sounds right to me for some reason. It fills up the frequencies that I listen for in a bass.
Unfortunately, I've grown accustomed to playing a 5 string bass, so that pretty much throws a monkey wrench into the whole thing. Passive pickups work great on 4 string basses, but once you add that low B string, you need more powerful pickups to accurately reproduce those lower frequencies. I love the way passive pickups sound, but when you play that low B with passive pickups it usually sounds farty and dead. So now you can see my problem.
The neck is another problem. My hands are too small for a huge bass neck, but most 5 string necks are pretty big. I also HATE the lacquer finish, I like the smooth oil finish. What kind of fretboard??? On guitar I like maple. Should I do that same for bass, or perhaps rosewood or ebony??? I like the way maple fretboards look on a bass, but sound is most important.
I'd also want a simple body design. A lot of new basses have these crazy bodies with 12 different kinds of wood. I just want a chunk of wood with 5 strings, and no batteries.
In a perfect world, my dream bass would be like this....
A yellow (or green) P-bass with a black pickguard. 5 strings with a custom-made passive P-bass 5 string pickup. This pickup would function exactly like a P-bass pickup except the top half would be a bit longer to fit the extra pole piece that would cover the the low B string. There would also be an active Bartolini humbucking bridge pickup. For the passive pickup I would have volume and tone. For the active pickup, I'd have volume, plus a 3 band EQ with sweepable mid. I'd also want an off switch for the active pickup so I wouldn't drain the battery when I wasn't using it. I'd want an oil-finished maple neck with a maple fretboard. The neck would have to be slightly smaller than usual.
Wait__ OH CRAP. I'm going to Germany in a few hours.
See ya in three weeks.
unts. I can't stand that shit. Lots of stuff like that going on. Damn this guy just got stabbed in the back by this other guy, that was slick. Sorry my studio was messy when I took those rig pictures. I figured no one would really care. On a scale of one to ten Dumb and Dumberer was only like a 4 until Hall and Oates came on, then it shot up to an 8. Why can't I find the original recordings of my favorite hits from the 50's? Oh man they're all crowded around this one guy now, he's being punished for something. When Eddie Griffen was a kid his mom used to punish him by hitting him with the car. I put my car in 2nd gear today because there's lots of downhill driving going to spo's house. Damn its 3:45 AM and I ain't even tired yet. Gotta cut back on the soda. I like checking out crappy websites that people made with little or no web design experience. Much like this site. But I took a class for this. The teacher was a math professor who's doctoral thesis had something to do with the harmonic series. Quite a deceiving series. Oh no does this guy wanna duel me now? That's better. So much to do in so little time. Why does everybody wait until the last friggin minute???
You don't have to answer, that was a rhetorical question. I apologize that I may have given the impression that I was looking for an answer. If rhetorical questions could be answered would they still be considered rhetorical? I guess the answer would have to be really good. Whoa that was quick. Why are we here? Recent events would suggest that I was put on this earth to do menial tasks for dumb c
It's been a while...
I've been sick for the past few weeks. You name it, I had it. I'm starting to feel a little better now. We have a lot to get to...
Dexter's Laboratory is my new favorite cartoon. It's unbelievably funny. I can relate to him which frightens me.
I bought a PC and I've been playing Star Wars Galaxies non stop. Here's a pic of me and scro on tatooine. (I'm the lizard guy)
This game is sick. When I re-do this website, I'm gonna make a page for Galaxies pics and stuff.
Which reminds me, I put all my guitars up on the gear page. Check it out.
I updated the favorite guitarists page again. Thanks Anna for putting me in number one, I don't know what to say to that...you're far too kind. : )
Yo! Happy October.
So we're probably gonna give the Tuesday's at dock street a rest. Since school has started our attendance is down. We're gonna give it one more week to see if it picks up. If not, we'll take a break for a while. Personally, I don't mind playing every week. I'd do that gig for free. As a matter of fact I've played many weeks at Dock Street with no pay in order to pay everyone else. It's the carting of gear that gets to me. The playing is fun. Moving heavy crap royally sucks. On top of that, we can't keep it up if the bar ain't doing business on Tuesdays Kim and Dave have been very cool to us, keeping the place open on Tuesdays no matter what. But, it's not right to make them hang there if no business comes in. We'll see what happens next week. We'll most likely either change days or take a break until the winter then start up again. But now I realize I'm most likely preaching to the choir, and I'd like to thank everyone who made our Tuesday nights a success this summer.
In amp news, my VHT has been delayed another month, which is about 2 more weeks longer than VHT told me on the phone. I'm gonna get it somewhere else. This has been ridiculous. I was reading up on their customer service, and people wrote that it takes them a year and a half to get amps they ordered from VHT. That will simply not do, and I'm being forced to buy a used one. This really sucks.
In Richie-Andyland, we have been revising our new songs over and over again. I'm very happy with the work we've done so far on our project. I'm thinking about keeping a recording journal for this album. I kept a notebook from my Alone in my Basement sessions. It was mainly for settings info, but everytime I read it, I'm transported back in time. It's very cool. Maybe I'll make the new journal part of the recording page.
I've been religiously watching the show Dexter's Laboratory. It's the greatest. It amazing because it makes me laugh out loud without having to be dirty. For some reason I can relate to a little pudgy kid who spends all his time huddled in his secret laboratory.
Now onto the important business. After a heated argument today, Scro and I feel it's necessary for a new poll.
What's your favorite Star Wars film and why? (Please try to be brief.)
Empire Strikes Back
ESB is the transformation. We see Luke becoming a man. It's like his Bar Mitzvah. Instead of getting money and lighting candles, he finds out that his one purpose in life is to kill an evil muthafucka who's trying to kill all of his friends. Oh yeah, and this evil dude just happens to be his dad! Harrison Ford gives his best performance out of the trilogy as Han Solo. We see Han and Leia fall in love only to be ripped apart at the end. This movie is like a greek tragedy, and that's why I love it. This movie is totally dark. There's no fluffy Ewoks, or goofy Gungans to lighten the movie up. It's all bad ass. Aside from the plot being really tight this movie also features a great battle on Hoth, blue spirit Ben, an amazing asteroid chase, and first-hand Jedi training from YODA! ESB is the best Star Wars movie.
I'll go one further. Here's my overall rank for em (this may change over time):
please send your comments here
have a good one,
Alright, I watched a show about Ninja Weapons today with Steve Corn and Andy Ascolese. After this, Andy and I went into the backyard and beat the crap out of eachother with nerf bats. It was really fun.
Go see school of rock with Jack Black. It's amazing.
I would like to clear something up. I was told by the friendly people at musicians fr....friend to call VHT and ask about my amp. After a few e-mails and voice mails they got back to me. They said all this crap about waiting 3 months for an amp is not musician's friends fault, It's VHT's fault. They apologized to me for the delay, and told me I'd have it in about 3 weeks. All is happy in amp land.
I'm learning how to create flash movies so I can update this site. I hope to launch the new site with new music and videos from Patrick Carbone, Donald Vandervoort, and Steve Corn. It should be cool, once I learn this damn program.
Andy Ascolese and I will be recording our new album shortly after we take care of some important paperwork. Once that project is finished I have an idea for my next project. I wanna take my heavy rock songs, and make this DVD I've been talking about for so long. I want to use animation for the visual component, so I'm looking for animators now.
Tonight Andy Ascolese finished writing our new album, we should begin recording shortly. I'm listening to the demos as I type.
After this I gotta learn a bunch of songs for a Bar Mitzvah I'm playing tomorrow afternoon.
Happy Birthday Nicole!!!
So I got my new car. It rocks hard. The thing is a mini-hummer. It's small enough to be really maneuverable, but it has crazy amounts of room for people and equipment inside. It also has 64 different seat configurations for lots of fun.
In the 3 days I've had the car, I've put over 100 miles on it, loaded it with equipment for a gig, used it as a bed, and most recently drove around Staten Island through Hurricane Isabel. The car handled it pretty well.
There's more top ten guitar players on the TOP TEN GUITAR PLAYERS LIST.
Jedi Academy came out yesterday, but I didn't buy it yet, I don't know what the hell I'm waiting for.
Scro came over yesterday with his laptop to play Jedi Knight. We were playing in the same room. Only problem is that both of us trash talk while we play, and it got really bad when we were trashtalking eachother in the same room.
My allergies are going crazy.
VHT hasn't returned my e-mails or phone calls about the status of my amp. They've been a real dream to deal with.
I just wanna clarify a few things about this list. This is not a top greatest guitarists list of all time. I'm just trying to get a feel of who people are into, and what their influences are. In doing so I hope to show that these "greatest" lists of any kind are all horseshit. So for, everyone's list has been really cool, and it teaches me a little something about each person that I didn't know.
I've gotten more lists via e-mail. Rather than adding these lists to each deep thoughts entry, I'll put em on a separate page that I will keep updating. Go HERE for that page.
I'm getting a new car tomorrow morning. It's funny that it was way easier to buy a car than it was to get a guitar amp from VHT. I still haven't received my VHT guitar amp, and it seems like I wont be getting it from Musicians Friend anytime soon. If I don't hear from them soon, I'm gonna buy the damn thing off of ebay!
Back to my car. I'm getting a Honda Element. It's one of those mini-hummer looking thingy. I love this thing. It's pretty functional. There's plenty of space for my gear and it drives well. I know a lot of people think it's an ugly boxy looking car, but I dig it. I'm so excited that I bought the new remastered version of AC/DC's back in black just for my first day with the car. I'm not opening the CD till I get the car. I can't wait.
Here are some of the results of the who's your top 10 favorite guitar players question...
Chris Kuffner's top 10
10 - Eric Clapton
9 - Chet Atkins
8 - Stevie Ray Vaughn
7 - Eddie Van Halen
6 - Andres Segovia
5 - Robert Johnson
4 - Django Reinhardt
3 - Michael Hedges
2 - Ron Thal (Bumblefoot)
1 - Jimi Hendrix
Andy Ascolese's top 10
10 - Jordan Rudess (keyboards for Dream Theater)
9 - Chuck Berry
8 - Richie Castellano
7 - Frank Gambale
6 - Nigel Tuffnel (Spinal Tap)
5 - Eddie Van Halen
4 - Dan Huff (Nashville Session Guitarist)
3 - Trevor Rabin (Yes)
2 - Brian May
1 - Jimi Hendrix
The Scro's top 10
10 - Nigel Tuffnel (Spinal Tap)
9 - Kyle Gass (Tenacious D)
8 - Jack Black (Tenacious D)
7 - BradWhitford (Aerosmith)
6 - Joe Perry (Aerosmith)
5 - Cesar Rosas (Los Lobos)
4 - The Edge (U2)
3 - Pete Townshend
2 - Eddie Van Halen
1 - George Harrison
Steve Corn's top 10
10 - G.E. Smith (Saturday Night Live)
9 - Richie Castellano
8 - Eddie Van Halen
7 - Randy Rhodes (Ozzy Osbourne)
6 - Tom Scholz (Boston)
5 - Jimmy Page
4 - Eric Clapton
3 - Jimi Hendrix
2 - Stevie Ray Vaughn
1 - David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)
Seems like Eddie Van Halen is in the lead so far for being on everyone's list! I can't believe you guys put me on your lists. THANKS! I'm honored!
These lists are pretty good. I even like Scro's and he HATES guitar players (which is probably why we're best friends.)
Give me some more of your lists and maybe we'll compile a huge list when I get all the results.
btw - The lounge tributes and the paramount records tribute I did were nominated in the first round of the Grammys!
I'd like to sincerely thank Patrick Carbone, Donald Vandervoort, and Steve Corn for video taping the Hit Me With It Alumni Show this tuesday. Hopefully, I'll have some clips up here soon.
Thanks to everyone for coming out this Tuesday and rocking out with us. Hit Me With It mk. 3 will be just Chris, Andy and myself as a trio. More emphasis will be placed on playing and jamming this time around. I'm looking forward to boldly going where we've never gone before. Tuesday should be pretty interesting.
Rolling Stone has a top 100 greatest guitar players list that's complete shit. The orders are way out of whack, and they included/excluded a lot of people that shouldn't have been. The truth is that any kind of list where you rank musicians is bullshit. It's all about personal taste. There's no way to do it. It's just a popularity contest to sell magazines. So with that in mind, I'm gonna come up with my personal top 10 favorite guitar players. These may not be the best ever, but they're my top 10 favorites. I will try to explain why I chose these players as well. (please note: these may change week to week)
12 - Nuno Bettencourt - Damnit, I couldn't do it in 10. Nuno was the first shredder I was ever into as a kid. As I got older I realized that his rhythm playing and songwriting were just as impressive as his lead playing. He was like the perfect mix of Eddie Van Halen and Brian May.
11 - Steve Morse - Steve Morse is one of those guys that you need to see live to understand. He's got everything: Chops, tone, feel, taste. He's an unbelievable player. I've seen him with Deep Purple and the Dixie Dregs and he was equally ass kicking each time.
10 - Angus Young - This is a recent development for me. Angus is the real deal. He plays straight from his balls, and I respect the hell out of him for it. Everything he plays is on the money and perfect for AC/DC. I hope I get to see him live soon.
9 - Bumblefoot - Bumblefoot is the best guitarist I've ever seen. He needs to be on my list.
8 - Frank Gambale - The Godfather of sweep picking. He plays enough rock to piss off the jazz guys and enough jazz to confuse the rock guys. I like it! I'm most fond of his work with Chick Corea. He shreds, but in a way that really showcases his harmonic knowledge rather than just his technique. I saw him live and I couldn't stop screaming.
7 - Eric Clapton - I learned how to play lead guitar by listening to Eric Clapton. That's why he's on here. I don't really listen to him much anymore, but the stuff I learned when I was a kid by transcribing Clapton is still a major part of my vocabulary.
6 - Brent Mason - Brent Mason is the #1 Nashville session guitarist. He's a top class chickin picker, but he understands pop music enough to make his style work over anything. As I dive deeper into country guitar I keep coming back to the same conclusion: This dude just kicks major ass.
5 - Eddie Van Halen - He's the most important thing to happen to rock guitar in the last 30 years. He always had one thing that his contemporaries didn't: soul. Eddie played fast and loud, but it wasn't empty. It had heart and balls. His playing is bluesy. I describe him as Clapton on Speed. When I saw Van Halen live, I realized just how amazing Eddie is. Everytime he touches the guitar, something cool happens.
4 - Django Reinhardt - this guy is the greatest guitarist of all time. He oozes musicality, and has the ability to bring grown men to tears with his playing. We are blessed to have recordings of this guy. I wont even mention his handicap. Django played pre be bop jazz. Swing with heavier improv. His style had a heavy european/gypsy flare that made his jazz unique. I've been transcribing his solos and it's been a real bitch.
3 - Joe Walsh - his southern flavor of rock got me into country guitar playing. He is the king of taste for me. Everything he plays is perfectly nasty. He's also a great songwriter which is important. Joe Walsh's tone is legendary. Everytime he picks up a guitar, I think, "wow, that's exactly what that guitar should sound like."
2 - Freddy King - Freddy King is the original genuine article of electric blues guitar. I've traced back everything I love about lead rock guitar to him. He got ripped off by many modern blues guitarists. Freddy played soulful like the classic blues guys, but was way heavier. He used a raunchy rock sound early on before the blues guys embraced that tone. He also was not against using pop music in his set to crossover. His instrumental "Hide Away" was a crossover hit on the pop charts. Now its considered a blues standard.
1 - Brian May - For me, Brian May has it all. Tone, Soul, Technique, Style, Songs, HAIR!!! One note, and you know it's him. He pushed the boundaries of tone. The sounds he produced from his home-made guitar still sound like they're from another planet to this day. With his red special guitar, he was able to recreate a new orleans brass band, a string quartet, a vocal choir, and a symphony orchestra. On recordings, his solos are perfect micro compositions within a song. His solos are so memorable that the songs sound like they were written around the solo. And most of these songs were Mega hits. He used baroque composition techniques and flawlessly adapted them to rock guitar. His live playing is totally different. He goes from carefully melodic, to straight up screaming rock guitar. Everything he plays sounds right for what he's doing. Aside from being my favorite guitar player he's also one of my favorite writers, penning hits like "We Will Rock You," "Tie Your Mother Down" and "Fat Bottomed Girls." Brian May has definitely written at least 10 of the greatest guitar riffs of all time.
E-mail me your top 10, and I'll put em up here.
Last night I had a dream that I was working backstage at a rock concert and I saw Sammy Hagar standing up against a wall. I went up to him with a cassette copy of the blues tribute to the grateful dead and said "Hey Dave, would you mind signing this." Although this irritated Sammy, he was a good sport and signed my cassette "David Lee Roth." As I was walking away, I realized what I had done, and apologized profusely to Mr. Hagar for confusing him with David Lee Roth.
The night before that I had a dream that my health insurance was about to run out, so I looked at a list of all the procedures in which they offered co-payments. I figured I might as well do some of this stuff while they'll still split the bill. I don't know if you've noticed but it's really hard to read in your dreams, so I signed up for a procedure that I didn't fully read or understand. I went to the doctor and he used a needle to extract a sperm sample from me. He used the sperm to create a clone of me. But this clone was a mutated clone, and turned out to be a dog version of me. The dog was small like a terrier. It had curly brown hair. This dog was the dumbest fuckin dog I ever seen. Clearly a clone of myself. This dumb dog would run into walls, and walk around in circles. I felt bad because I couldn't bring it home due to my dad's allergies, but the dog wouldn't stop following me around. Then I found out that I had to pay $4,200 for the procedure. That really sucked.
The night before that, I had a dream I was driving around Staten Island and I got lost. As I was trying to find my way home, I found a flea market. I went in and found an army/navy store. They had cool ninja swords which were too pricey for me, so instead I ended buying these cool wooden nunchucks.
Some day, a psychiatrist is gonna make a lot of money off me.
Andy and have been writing songs together. I'm very pleased with the songs and the partnership. We plan to record an album of all new stuff very soon, like within a month. I must apologize to the people who support my original music. I've been putting off finishing my album for various reasons. This new album that we're 90% finished writing, is going to be way better than the other album would have been. It's going to feature the best songs from the album I was working on, and Andy's best songs, as well as brand new songs that we've written together. This isn't just going to be the Richie/Andy album, it's gonna be a new band. At the core of this band are the two of us, plus an amazing singer we've hooked up with. I will do my best to finish this album as fast as possible. I can't wait for people to hear these songs.
Andy, Chris, Scro, and I hung out at the Cargo last night after seeing a great performance by the sweathogs. We've come up with the new direction of Hit Me With It. Hit Me With It is going to be just the 3 of us. We will do shows as a trio, but also do shows with featured guests. We'll be kind of like what the funk brothers were for the motown artists. Just one band who can back up whoever. This configuration will give us the flexibility we need. We can stretch musically when we want, or book shows with guests when we wanna do something more conventional. For example, if we were to do a show with Jason on vocals, it would be Jason & Hit Me With It. If we did a show with my father John as lead, we'd be John & Hit Me With It. This way we can play with whoever we want, whenever it's convenient, and not dilute what the 3 of us have together. I think that our Tuesday gigs are about to get very interesting. We wanna make Dock Street a place where we can do theme nights, and bring cool featured guests to play with us. Check back for more details.
Supposedly there's only 3 days left until my amp is in stock. I can't wait!
I think I'm gonna have to buy a new Honda Element, you know those mini-hummer things. I think they're cool, and I like the configuration for lugging around stuff.
YO! Check out the movie, "Standing In The Shadows Of Motown." If you like music, you need to see it. Screw that, if you hate music you need to see it too. Just see it. It was incredible.
My sincere thanks to everyone who came to La Mer on Thursday. I apologize for the short performance. The club decided they weren't going to pay us and cut us short. We will more than make up for it at Dock Street on Tuesday, which will be Dana's final Dock Street performance. It will also feature Jason Spoor, and Jared Apuzzo who were in the original Hit Me With It Lineup. I've written a history of the band for people who don't know the story, and the significance of this coming Tuesday's show. Go here to check it out:
The History of Hit Me With It
In other news, my VHT amp has been postponed yet again. By the time this thing comes, I wont have anymore gigs.
I was playing with a mayonnaise packet at the diner last night and it squirted all over me. Mad funny. Of course there were raw comments made as you could probably imagine.
And now, health issues. My neck is killing me, and I had the runs for the past 2 days.
The official "bad car week" continues. So there I was, driving up to Westchester to visit my friend. I'm on the NJ turnpike heading towards the GWB when I hear this creaking noise. That noise is followed by the smell of burning rubber, then smoke. After a few moments I realize that this is all coming from my classic 93 ford tempo. I pull over to see the rear passenger tire is smoking and the hub cap had turned black. I call AAA who comes down, changes the tire, but says the tire is not the problem it's the actual axle of my car coming loose. So I drive all the back to Shaolin at like 40 MPH on the NJ tnpke. That was fun. I prayed to God, Jesus, Moses, The Force, and Lemmy to get me home safe. Luckily I didn't die. I'd like to take a moment to thank God, Jesus, Moses, The Force, and Lemmy. One or more of those got me home alive!
So now I'm car-less. I drive Dad's Red van to work. I go into the van and see that the rear view mirror has fallen off. On top of that I hear that some of the pipes under the car have become loose and are loudly banging into the car as I drive. If someone has a voodoo doll of me in a fucked up car, can you please stop it! I have to buy a new car, which means I have to work more to pay for that shit. This SUCKS.
I got the new Behringer FCB-1010 midi controller pedal. I was skeptical about it at first, but after reading all those manuals, I decided to buy it and give it a try. This thing kicks ass. They call it an ultra-flexible foot controller, and they aint bullshitting. This thing made my head spin. It's got the standard 10 button bank up/down configuration. It also has two expression pedals and two analog 1/4 inch switching mechanisms! I'll give you an example of what this thing can do. When you select a preset, it can change your effects settings, midi settings, start a computer, change channels on an analog amp, assign functions on each device to the expression pedals, and more! I sound like a friggin' salesman, but this thing is great! I'm totally using it on Tuesday This has allowed me to get rid of some un-needed crap in my rig, it has made things a lot simpler for me. I must be honest though, it took me over 2 hours to program the pedal, but now that it's done, it's really great. I can't control volume and effects parameters all from this unit!
Special thanks to paddy one for teaching me how to do 4 hit combos on strong style!
I saw the funniest episode of Samurai Jack today! You gotta see the one where he needs new shoes, it's AMAZING!
Damn, I just sneezed on myself.
Question: Do I like pineapples because they're tasty, or because they're yellow? The more I think about it, pineapples are sweet, but a little bitter also. My brain is telling me I like them, but that maybe just because they're yellow. I also appreciate bananas and lemons.
Strange days indeed. Last few days have been weird. I've been tired. My car broke down on the way to the weekend's gig. The gig sucked, but I had fun, and we sounded good. Tonight was a mellow dock street gig, but still fun. I was so tired. I weighed myself this morning and saw that I had gained 3 pounds, so I worked out today on my gazelle for an hour until I was soaked. I lost the 3 pounds, so that was good. Unfortunately that wasn't the best idea because I hurt my knees, and I was worn out before the gig. I wont be doing that next Tuesday We have no gigs this weekend which sucks, but I will appreciate the days off.
I've had to postpone the "big" Hit Me With It gig a couple of weeks. I'll make sure everyone knows when it's gonna be.
I spent all of last night reading through instruction manuals for shit I have, and shit I'm about to get. I just learned that my rack harmonizer is also a TUNER! YES! I don't need the tuner anymore. COOOOOOOOL. I spent lots of time last night pacing around in circles thinking about wiring configurations for my new rig. I should be getting my VHT amp very soon!
Video Games are ruining my life. I think I'm addicted. (heh heh) FYM RULES!
I'm cracking down on link etiquette. I have mad links on my site that I check out from time to time. Some of the websites did not contain links to this site. That kinda sucks. The internet is a community. Most of us are small sites. We rely on links to spread the word. I'm gonna end up removing the culprits soon.
Lots of stuff happening with Hit Me With It. Some good, some not so good depending on your point of view. All I can say for now is that in 2 weeks something is gonna happen.
I jammed with Frankie Paris and Cold Sweat last night at Arthur's Tavern in Greenwich Village. They were fucking AWESOME! So tight, and the players were blazing. Thanks to those guys for letting me sit in. Special props to Mark Bowers who totally rocks. Check him out at lilbastad.com.
I think Andy and I are gonna start an original project. Stay tuned for details on that.
Just beat Knights of the Old Republic on X Box. It was EXCELLENT. Allow me to play critic for a second. I loved the game. I thought it had a really cool story line. I thought they borrowed (stole) a lot from the film plots, but at least it was done in a cool way. It's better that they ripped off the movies and it was cool, instead of doing a totally original story filled with SUCK. I thought the game play was great. The environments could have been bigger, but that's just because I'm starting to get into Galaxies. Overall, I'm very satisfied, I can't wait to play it again as a sith lord!
Certain people are really starting to freak me out.
Did anyone see Blender's top 50 worst bands list? What the fuck?!? ELP??? Toad The Wet Sprocket???? Whitesnake???? What's the criteria...bands who write hit songs, play proficiently and sell out concerts??? Maybe they should add The Beatles and Led Zeppelin to that list as well...morons.
Had fun at the "Jason" gig the other night. Thanks to everyone involved.
Sorry for being a lazy bitch-ass. I finally updated the site today in the midst of chaos. I was on the phone with club owners, agents, credit card companies, tech support, and having my mother try to talk to me the whole time. I broke the FYM server again, but now it's back up. ROCK! We're backing up Jason Spoor at the 640 club in Elizabeth, NJ this weekend. Should be cool. I booked more Hit Me With It gigs. I'm writing songs again, so that's good. Friggin' video games are ruining my life. DAMN YOU LUCASARTS. With 3 cool star wars games out at once I don't know what to do!
I'm in the process of renovating my guitar arsenal. I put all new dimarzio pickups on most of my axes. I'll be updating the gear page soon to describe what I've done.
Musicians Friend SUCKS!
Summer seems to be flying by like the millennium falcon on the kessel run (snort snort). I had a great time at Dock Street tonight (last night). Jared Apuzzo from the others (theothers.tv) is our original drummer, he filled in for Andy who showed up midway through the show to make the show a 5 piece thang. It was loud and good. ROCK. I stayed up till 7:30 AM yesterday playing Knights of the Old Republic. Wow that game ROCKS. If you're a Jedi Outcast on the PC/MAC fan, come visit my clan at the FYM server.
Knights of the Old Republic Rules.
It's that time again. Time for a completely random edition of Deep Thoughts.
My neck is killing me. Last night we did 2 shows back to back. We rocked equally hard at both shows. All the head banging has made my neck hurt like hell. We did an AIDS benefit at Dock Street at 9 PM which was really cool. We played with my friend Ray's band Station, and the Corporation. Ray's band was great. I didn't get a chance to hear the Corporation, but I heard they tore it up. Right after we played our set, we headed to KJs for our next gig of the evening which we started at 11:50 PM. Big thanks to Donald, Patrick, Mike, Spo, Mandy, and Kim for coming down to both of the shows! KJ's was typical. No action till the 3rd set when everyone was nice and drunk. The audience wasn't very responsive until we played some Maiden for them. MAIDEN RULES! Maiden always does the trick. I'm going to see them at the Garden in 2 weeks. It's gonna ROCK.
I just saw the league of extraordinary gentlemen. I'd like to thank the morons in the back for ruining yet another movie at UA Stadium 16. The following is a Public Service Announcement.
YOU KNOW WHEN THEY SAY PLEASE BE QUIET AND TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONES DURING THE MOVIE?
THAT'S NOT A SUGGESTION, IT'S A REQUIREMENT!
Ah, that feels better.
Now for some stuff that sucks...
Dell computers suck cuz' we can't get Galaxies to work on Scro's laptop. WTF? It works on his older computer, but not his brand new state of the art jammy. So for the time being Dell sucks.
Ever notice how you could be doing nothing all day, and have no one call you, but the minute you start something, you get 8 phone calls, IMs e-mails, nagging, bitching, moaning etc... Not that it really bothers me, It's just that_ hold on, my phone's ringing...
I'm back, yeah, so Knights of the Old Republic comes out on Wednesday. I reserved a copy of that shit. I can't wait.
I downloaded a cool Matrix Reloaded map for Jedi Outcast, then I hooked up my board, it only took 23 minutes.
hold on voice mail alert...
I had some fucked up ziti today.
Happy Graduation Dana
Galaxies it out, and it's amazing. Only thing is that they want $160 per year to play it, and there's been some problems with the servers already.
Next order of business, It has been decided by the general population that Han Solo is the baddest mutha shut yo mouth pilot in the Star Wars films. I was leaning towards Han myself under the condition that Anakin doesn't do anything really cool in the next movie.
Onto some random shit. I'm rediscovering Hendrix. I heard "Little Wing" on the radio, and I decided that no one plays like him. It's like he's from another planet. Hendrix Rocks.
Now for a family anecdote that I heard from my grandfather over dinner. My grandfather used to own a candy store a long time ago. When he first opened it up, he had a rough few months in the beginning. Back in the day, candy stores sold more than just candy. He picked up some civil war hats at one of his discount suppliers and hoped that he could sell them in the store. The hats were Grey and Blue and were worn by the opposing sides of the war: North and South. My great grandmother Rosie wanted to help out, so she went to the store and said "Give me those hats, I'll sell them for you." My grandfather told her that she didn't have to, but she explained that she liked helping out.
This is where this story gets crazy.
Greatgrandma knew about a these 2 blocks in brooklyn that didn't get along. The people on these 2 streets hated each other. Somehow she convinced one block that the other was wearing the blue hats. After selling the grey hats to that block, she went to the other block and sold them the blue hats. The people actually wore the hats as a symbol of how much they disliked eachother!
I just thought that was a brilliant story and I had to share it.
The Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game Star Wars Galaxies is coming out in 4 days. I gotta go buy a damn PC now. Sonofabitch!
Congrats to Dana for being crowned prom queen!
Today's topic is piloting skills. I've been tossing this question around for a few days now. Who's the best pilot in Star Wars? The first 2 that popped into my head were Han Solo, and Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. When I asked around, I got some other answers too. Lando Calrissian, Luke Skywalker, Obi Wan Kenobi, and Jango Fett. Lets see if we can narrow that list down. OK, Jango Fett. Ok, Obi Wan. Even though he's my favorite character in Star Wars, he does get dusted by Jango Fett in the asteriod dogfight. Therefore, I must eliminate Obi Wan. Next is Jango, he has skills, but we only see him fly once. Due to lack of evidence, I must remove Jango from the proceedings. Luke Skywalker's a bit of a bad ass pilot. He did bring down Death Star #1, but as my friend Damian pointed out, he also gets shot down on Hoth, and Crash lands his X Wing into the swamp on Degobah, so Luke's out. Who's left Han, Anakin, and Lando. Lando flies his ass of at the battle of Endor. Evading tie fighters in the close quarters of the Death Star's inner workings. He blows the shit up and escapes just in time. But, he does knock that dish thingy off the falcon. We only see him fly once as well, so for me, Lando's out. Back to Han and Anakin. Let's look at Anakin. At 9 years old he wins the Boonta Eve pod race on Tatooine. I doubt that Han could have done that at 9 years old. At 10, he single handedly blows up the trade federation droid control ship which wins the battle for Naboo. Then, At 20 we see him pilot a speeder through heavy Coruscant traffic in Pursuit of Zam Wessel. As Vader we see him take out most of the rebel ships during the battle of Yavin, but then he gets punk'd by Han Solo. In some people's eyes, that's enough right there to proclaim Han Solo the winner of this pointless debate. Let's examine Han, shall we? The first really cool thing we see him do is surprise attack Vader. That is unsettling to me. Vader is supposed to be the most powerful Jedi/Sith around. He should have sensed that shit coming. Anyway... then in empire, Han evades the imperial fleet by heading in to an asteriod field, and dusting the tie fighters in his wake. But Obi Wan, and Jango had no trouble with the asteroids during their dogfight. That whole dogfight kind of discredits Han's abilities to me in some small way. He does have the slick move of hiding on the star destroyers hull, but Obi Wan used a similar tactic to escape Jango. After that Han is frozen in carbonite, and never really flies again for the rest of the movies. of course there's the kessel run, but we don't actually see that. Han could be bull-shitting to get the gig. Plus there's the whole issue of the force. Anakin has the force as his advantage. Plus he's a mechanical genius, who can build/fix anything. Han has great instincts and is very lucky. So who's better? Can we really base our answer on the battle of Yavin, where Vader's traveling down the Death Star trench, and Han fires at him from above. Han gets a shot in, but only removes Vader from the pursuit. He didn't kill him, and he didn't disable his ship in any major way. Vader's tie fighter was obviously in good enough shape to get him back to the imperials. I was leaning toward Han as my answer, but now I'm starting to think Anakin. I guess I'm split down the middle on this one. Unless Anakin does some really cool piloting stuff in episode 3, then by answer will be Han. But if he's a bad ass pilot in the next one, I'll go with Anakin. Tell me what you think.
I bought a black telecaster today. I think I'm gonna redesign the gear page, and show everyone my new guitars.
I'm designing a new live rig for my guitar stuff. I'm gonna change the gear page as soon as it's done. Thanks to everyone for coming to Coaches the other night!
Happy Birthday Scro!
OK, it's been a while since my last deep thought. This is because I was gone for all of last week...
It all started last friday at Coaches in Staten Island. I had a Hit Me With It gig. We played till about 3 AM. I got home at about 4:30 AM. Took a shower, packed my bags, and at 5:30 AM left the house with my family and headed to Newark airport. Now the fun begins...
We get to the airport and find out that our flight had been pushed back an hour, they claimed that they sent mom an e-mail but she probably deleted it. I don't remember much about the flight because I was sleeping most of the time. We got to Miami, and then headed to the baggage claim. The baggage carousel was broken so they moved us to another one with out telling us. Then the new carousel got jammed up, and that one broke down, so they moved us back to the other one. So far, So good. We take a shuttle to the rent-a-car place. My family proceeds to wait an hour on line. During this time, I find a bench and pass out. Then we drive to the hotel. In the car ride, I pass out. We arrive at the Wellesly hotel. We go to the front desk and request the 2 rooms we have booked. They claim we only booked one room (spinal tap.) Mom takes out the confirmation letters they sent her to show that she booked 2 rooms. During this conflict, I find a couch in the lobby and pass out. We all go up to the one room they have for us, until they prepare the second room. I go on the bed and pass out. 20 minutes later we head to my aunt's house about 15 minutes away. She was having a pre-party party in her house. The occasion was my cousin's bar mitzvah. Yes, even though my last name is Castellano, I am in fact half Jewish. According to the Jews, i'm fully jewish because my mom is Jewish. According to me, I'm a sith lord, because I don't really practice Judaism or Catholicism. Anyway... I thought I was gonna spend some QT with the family, but instead I had to face the "Jewish Inquisition" where I have to try to explain to people what I do for a living. To old Jewish women, if you don't say doctor or lawyer, they shut their brains off. After all the greetings, I got to spend some time with my great grandmother who is 102 years old!!! And she's sharp as a knife. unfortunately, during mid-conversation, I passed out on the couch. My dad told me he was exhausted and he was going back to the hotel. I joined him. We fell asleep until my father woke me up to look at all the bugs crawling around on the night table. Disgusting. My mom came back and was pissed of at us for ditching the party even though me and dad couldn't stay awake for more than 5 minutes at a time. By this time, the room problem was resloved and I went to go share a room with my sister Nicole and brother-in-law Joe.
We woke bright and friggin' early for the big day. We all had plans to go to eat breakfast together. Someone handed my little sister, Lauren, a map and said meet us there. We got lost and ended up going to Denny's. At Denny's the service was awful. I had to walk up to the waitress after being seated for about 15 minutes, and beg for coffee. After breakfast we got ready for the bar mitzvah. My aunt gave us retarded directions to the temple and we got lost. Finally we made it to the temple, and the inquisition continues, except this time with much older people. Instead of trying to explain, that I work 10 jobs, and don't make enough money, I just told everybody that I'm a record producer. I figured in this case less is more. The Rabbi informed us that the air conditioning in the temple was broken. It was really hot in there. I commented to my father, "I thought that these people were trying to get away from the ovens." I don't think my off colored remark thrilled him. The ceremony was nice, we sat down, stood up, sat down, stood up, sat, stood, sat, stood. Unfortunately it wasn't at a quick enough pace to get a good cardio workout from it. After the ceremony which was over an hour, we went to the catering hall in the same building. Mentally and physically exhausted I attempted to have a good time, until I found out that the party was scheduled to be 7 hours long! Then I got antsy, and my mom got pissed off again. After the party, we went back to the hotel to change for the post-party party. Nicole, Joe, grandma, grandpa, 2 family friends, and myself, went into the elevator, and got stuck. The doors shut, and the damn thing didn't move. People were panicking and banging on the doors. I thought it was hysterical and video taped the whole thing. After about 3 minutes, we got out. People were cursing out the hotel management! Then we went to my aunts house where I played the tape of the elevator incident for everyone. My grandfather was asking me a lot of questions about my music. So instead of explaining what I do, I just put a CD on for him. He lasted about 2 and a half songs before losing his attention span and walking away. Then we went to the hotel.
The next morning we woke up early yet again. We jumped in our rented lincoln's and drove to Orlando. During the car ride, I passed out. Supposedly my father and Joe were driving 100 MPH on the Florida turnpike and made it to Orlando in record time. I woke up in Disney World! I was so excited. The Hotel was awesome! After about 2 hours of bullshit in the hotel room, we went to Epcot center. It was fucking HOT. My poor father was weezing for air. Epcot was nice, but they hadn't really added much since the last time I went there. The highlight of my trip to Epcot was getting a call for a gig while waiting online for a ride. I didn't have my schedule on me, because I was on vacation. I called Chris and Andy to take care of things. When I got back from Epcot I found out that neither of them did shit. So I got on the phone, and took care of business while on vacation.
The next day was the turning point. The day I decided that we were the Griswalds. We jumped on a bus and went to Blizzard Beach which is a disney water park. We went on a slide or 2 and then the rain came. POURING RAIN, and where all standing there in our bathing suits. The lifeguards herd us under these small wooden shelters that can only comfortably fit 15 people, but instead about 40 people are crammed under this little thing for about an hour, as the rain just comes down endlessly. By the time the rain stops my whole family is irate. Especially my father who chewed out this little 7 year old boy for cutting him in line. We left that disaster and went to MGM. When we got to MGM, the sun, that abandoned us at Blizzard Beach came out in full force in an attempt to give my father a stroke. The Aerosmith ride was cool, but it lasted 30 seconds, that was annoying. That was the only new attraction at MGM and it was over so fast. Then we did tower of terror which is cool. I finally had to break away from the group because there was stuff at MGM I wanted to do that no one else wanted. Among those things were the soundstation where you learn about audio in film, and the Indiana Jones and Star Wars gift shops. We got back to the hotel. Then Nicole, Joe, and I went do downtown Disney There I found Disney Quest. A FREE ARCADE!!!!!! We went in, and my sister yelled at this little kid for hogging the star wars trilogy game. It was pretty funny. After that we went back the hotel.
Wednesday morning, Nicole and Joe went to universal, I decided to go with the rest of my family to the Magic Kingdom. The sun is out again and is is merciless. The park is crowded beyond belief. Every line is at least an hour wait. My parents got very frustrated by this and decided to go back to the hotel. Me and Lauren tried to make the best of the situation, and tried to hit all the rides. When we were about half way through, the rain came again. This time much more violently than before. We found shelter in arcade which made me happy until I discovered that all the games cost a dollar to play (BULLSHIT.) When the rain finally let up, we headed back to the hotel. Nicole and Joe told me that I had to check out Universal. At night we went back to downtown Disney and pleasure island with the whole family. Downtown Disney was cool. Pleasure Island was beat.
Thursday morning I took my dad to universal on Nicole and Joe's recommendation. Universal was great. it totally kicks the crap out of Disney. Every ride is better, every theme is more interesting. The lines were shorter, and it was cheaper. We went around the whole park hitting every ride, until the HULK. The hulk messed my dad up. He felt like his brain was spinning in his skull. We went back to the hotel, and did the pool thing. Then at night, I went to Epcot again with mom and Lauren. I walked in, walked through the whole park, then walked out because everything was closed at 7PM. Disney is soooo beat. You can see it on the bored looks on all the kids' faces.
On Friday, my family went back to New York. I stayed to check out Star Wars weekends which cost me an extra $140 to stay for. This was the biggest disappointment of the whole trip. Star Wars weekends is sooooo dumb. Not much goes on. The play a few trivia games, sell some different t-shirts and mugs, and have autograph signings. It was really stupid and I feel ripped off. The worst part about it was the "behind the force" documentary that they showed. The hyped it up to be this cool behind the scenes thing. The just played to special features from the episode ii DVD. Whata load of crap that was.
My vacation sucked ass. I'm really glad be back home.
Happy Birthday Cara
I've decided that I'm in love with the guitar player from The Donnas (more details to come)
On another note, I've changed my lightsaber blade from blue to red (more details to come)
I'm sick. I have a sore throat, cold, headache, the runs, and I'm deaf in my left ear...
It all started on Friday night. While out with my
friend Ray, I felt a tingle in my throat. Went home that night, and the tingle
turned into a scratchy feeling. I knew then that I was going to be sick. I went
home and attempted to sleep...
4 AM -I begin to have an out of body experience. Not sure if I'm sleeping or awake. Not sure if I'm having a dream... Mucus buildup and throat pain keeping me in this state. I put some clothes on and drive to walgreens. I buy chloroseptic, halls, and tea. I go home drink tea, shower, spray chloroseptic, and take some pills. At 6:30 AM a taxi arrives and takes me to LaGuardia Airport. At 7:15 I arrive at LaGuardia. I wait outside in the cold while sucking on halls to suppress the agonizing pain in my throat. I meet Jack Secret at the curb. A red van appears and we begin removing heavy cases. We wait for members of Blue Oyster Cult to arrive. 4 of them arrive, and we proceed into the airport. I board a plane at 9:15 I sit by the window. While trying to sleep my sore throat becomes a full fledged cold. 4 hours later I arrive in Dallas Texas. It should be 2 PM, but NO, it is 1 PM due to the change of time zone. We navigate the labyrinth that is known as Dallas Fort Worth airport and end up at the baggage claim. There we obtain the heavy cases I mentioned before and put them in 2 vans, a red one and a white one. 3 others join us, and we get in the vans. 2 1/2 hours later we arrive at a hotel in Tyler, Texas. I am given a room. I go to this room, and clean myself up. We then take the white van to a motorcycle rally 15 minutes away. It is here I realize that this is not a dream, as surreal as it seems, this is real. I'm sick as a dog, in texas, at a bike rally with Blue Oyster Cult. I snap out of my half sleep, and get down to business. It would appear that I am responsible for the sound at this event so I begin speaking with the people with the sound company. Due to the fact that they are doing what I tell them confirms my belief that I am responsible for the sound. We set up the sound. Then I walk around at the bike rally. I'm still experiencing this half awake, half asleep feeling. Not sure if what I see is real. I see lots of hot chicks with boob jobs hanging around fat tattooed bikers missing teeth. Now I begin to think I'm dreaming again. Everything seems to be happening at half speed. Everyone moves slowly. I seem to be moving slowly. I approach a white truck, and request a cheesesteak sandwich with no onions. It seems to take very long to make. I take this sandwich and walk back to the sound booth. I eat my sandwich under the mixing console. It is very tasty. I then walk backstage, I find a chair and pass out. Is it possible to sleep within a dream? While I'm sleeping I hear lots of sounds, smell lots of strange smells...maybe just having a sound only dream. I open my eyes, and I see members of Blue Oyster Cult. One in particular approaches me and says "you gonna make it loud tonight?" To which I replied "hell yeah!" He then said "Are you feeling any better?" I said, "no, but it's nothing that some loud rock n roll can't fix." OK, so I'm not dreaming. It's show time, and I have that pre show feeling that couldn't possibly be duplicated by a dream. I walk on stage, and move all the mikes into the correct positions. I walk to the sound booth, do a quick line check, everything sounds great except I have no piano. This problem takes 10 minutes to solve. This must have been the half time feeling I had earlier. It's not that time slowed down. It's just that I was in Texas, and everything takes more time. The show begins. Everything is nice and LOUD. The guy from the sound company tells me to lower it down, but I must obey my employers, so... LOUD IT IS! The guy only complained about 8 more times, then the show was over. Somebody was trying to feed me a burrito, but I refused. I took the white van back to the hotel. I woke up at 6 AM the next morning, showered and took the white van back to DFW airport. I boarded a plane at 10:30 flew for 3 hours. During this time my ears popped a few times due to pressure and altitude changes (normal stuff.) When I got off the plane at 3 PM, the right ear popped back to normal but the left was still clogged. I took a taxi home. Still clogged. I crashed at 8 PM, woke up 9 AM the next morning, still clogged.
Bumblefoot informed me that he was leaving Hit Me With It today, I'm sick, and I can't hear out of my left ear. I'm having a wonderful day : )
Happy Graduation Damian
I saw the Matrix Reloaded. It rocked. The next morning I was so amped, I had to run on the treadmill just to calm myself down! The 10 PM premiere on Wednesday night was a blast. I went to see it again last night, and it was far from ideal. I had the world's rudest person sitting next to me....
Dude sits next me and immediately claims the arm rest. But that's OK, there's only one arm rest for 2 people, and I usually don't use the arm rest anyway. If that's not bad enough, his elbow is reaching far passed the arm rest and jabbing into the side of my stomach. I solved this problem by placing my arms right up against (but not on) the arm rest when he shifted position. So instead of getting the hint that he was invading my space, he continued to jabb his elbow into my arms thinking that I was going to submit, and let him spill over to my seat. It wasn't like the guy was obese and didn't have a choice. He was thin, and he was being an asshole. Then he grabbed my drink. This led me to believe that he was stoned. I told him that he was grabbing my drink, and he didn't seem to understand the words I was saying. I took the drink from him, and he the realized that his beverage was on his other side. It was a slurpy. He carefully removed the lid, while almost spilling the slurpy all over me. Then he started to slurp loudly during the movie. Then when I thought it couldn't get any worse, his phone vibrates. And instead of turning it off, HE PICKS IT UP! He says "hello", but no one answers. Everyone with in a 4 seat radius to him shoots him the dirty look. He puts the phone down. Picks up his popcorn and drops the bag on the floor. He turns his phone back on to use the phone light to investigate what happened to his popcorn. As he is doing this his phone rings again. AND HE ANSWERS IT AGAIN. This time, someone in my party said "would you mind taking that outside." and he turned the phone off. He turns the phone on again, to retrieve his popcorn. He gets the popcorn, and starts eating it, soooo fucking loudly, and obnoxiously with his mouth opened. While he is covering up all the important movie dialogue with his irritating eating noises, his phone rings again, AND THIS TIME HE STARTS HAVING A CONVERSATION. Finally someone from my party said, (wanna guess who said this) "THIS GUY'S A FUCKING IDIOT." then he turned his phone off again. Minutes later, he turns the phone on again. This time, HE CALLS SOMEONE, and continues his conversation. His speaker is soooo loud that I can hear the whole conversation. Finally, I asked him to shut his phone off. He then got up and left. What the hell is wrong with some people?
I think I was in the matrix today. Not many of you know this but I am half Jewish (don't let the name Castellano fool you.) My cousin on my mother's side is having a Bar Mitzvah in Florida (little Israel). I need a suit for this thing. But if any of you have seen my sense of fashion you know that I can't be trusted to get one on my own. My mother had to supervise this. Here's my theory: Jewish mothers operate on a matrix of their own. Even though they let you think you have a choice, it's just another method of control. She knew what suit I was going to get before we even walked into the store. She let me think I was going to pick a suit out, but through various techniques (guilt, nagging, reverse psychology, maternal intuition) she ensured that she would get here desired outcome. It's amazing how that works.
One more Matrix topic. After the Wednesday night premiere of the film, me and a few friends went to a local late night restaurant to discuss what we just saw. Upon entering the establishment I noticed something strange. We had unknowingly walked into the first ever meeting of the local matrix fan club. Mind you, this was no official fan club. None of the restaurant patrons even knew they were in this fan club. But when I looked around and saw a bunch of guys with weight problems, bad skin, odd facial hair, and NO GIRLS, I knew why everyone was there. I turned to my friends, and pointed out that "all these guys just saw the matrix." It wasn't planned out. Maybe the Matrix has us, and at that point forced us all to go to that restaurant.
Happy Mother's Day, Happy Birthday Andy
On Saturday, there was a street naming ceremony in honor of my grandmother, Marion Castellano. Thanks to everyone who attended. It was really awesome. The corner of Bay 28th & Bath Avenue in Brooklyn was named Marion Castellano Way. Check it out:
Hit Me With It has played 3 times since my last deep thought. Unfortunately, Bumblefoot is under the weather so we had to do it as a 4 piece. GET WELL SOON. Special thanks to Rico, Patrick, and Donald for showing their support at our shows.
GO CHECK OUT X MEN 2! It was soooooo coool. I'm going to see the Matrix 2 tonight. I'll give you the full report next time.
I need to play Jedi Outcast now. MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU.
Happy May, Happy Spring, Happy Birthday Dad, Happy Birthday Dana. It's been a while since my last Deep Thought. I will endeavor to explain this...
Many months ago, a game came out called "Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. Being a huge Star Wars Fan, and the proud owner of an X Box, I purchased this game from my local video game pusher man. For many more months I enjoyed this game very much. The single player storyline was excellent, but it was the multiplayer stuff that was really cool. You and a friend could battle up to 14 computer generated Jedi in many classic Star Wars locations (like the Death Star.) This was amazing. Unfortunately after about 3 months of this, my fellow Jedi and I were beginning to feel the limits of the game, and eventually lost interest. The problem was that only 2 of us could play at once, so if you and the rest of the Jedi Council were having a meeting, only two of you could be engaged in combat while your companions impatiently spectated the action. The company that made this game offered no online support for the X Box release.
However, I had discovered that the computer version of this game did have an online multiplayer feature, and it was recently released for macintosh computers! Now I love my X Box, but I love the Mac much more. So I ordered the game online. I was so determined that I went as far as to optimize my beloved music computer for video games. Within minutes of installing the game, I was online, engaged in combat with several other Jedi Knights (probably teen aged boys with weight problems and self-esteem issues.) I informed the rest of the Jedi council of my discovery, but they didn't believe me. When they came to my house and saw the chaotic battle for themselves they were hooked. They went to their pusher men, and got the game for themselves. So at this point, all of my colleagues can participate in the same battles from their homes. It's a very social way of being anti-social.
To make matters worse, there are several very talented computers graphics artists who make additional files for the game such as new characters, and locations to use during gameplay. Some of the more notable locations were the Cloud City complex where the end of Empire Strikes Back takes place, and the Naboo power reactors where the end of The Phantom Menace takes place. I even participated in the creative aspect of the game by designing a model of Paulie Walnuts from the sopranos, and making him a Jedi in the game. We also met a few Jedi Masters online from the ERG group who were kind enough to train us in the Jedi arts, making us great warriors (even though war does not make one great).
To make a long story short, I got hooked. This is why I don't drink or do drugs. I find something I like, and just go full force with it. Along with feeding my video game addiction, I am recording an album for CMH, teaching 4 days a week, and playing gigs.
So to explain the reason for my absesnse on this page: Any deep thoughts I had were either lost with the brain cells that were destroyed by playing this game, or put into a song on the recent songwriting binge I'm on.
I urge you to use caution in your gaming. Check it out.
This weather sucks!
When I was a little kid Blood Sport was one of my favorite movies.
Happy Birthday to Bill, and Philip III!
Today's topic: DRAMA.
Do I want Drama? HELL NO!
Did you ever feel like you just couldn't win. This week I felt like I couldn't do a damn thing without pissing somebody off. But now the week is behind me, I feel optimistic about this week coming up. I feel sorry for people who don't have some sort of creative outlet. By writing songs, I surgically remove the drama from my life. When people can't do that, it gets rough.
The lounge brigade debut at Purchase College was a success. We managed to alienate a large group of people in an Andy Kauffman kind of way. Some people really got it. Other were scratching their heads.
Tuesday night at Dock Street was interesting. A bit chaotic, but in a good way. We had rehearsal and learned a bunch of new tunes for the next show.
Samurai Jack today was fantastic. It was based in the old west and Jack battles this gun slinger and his slutty biotch on the top of a moving train. As you can probably guess, Jack whooped em. GO JACK!!!!
I was watching Star Wars: A New Hope this week. Ever notice how Luke seems to be more devastated by the death of Ben Kenobi than the deaths of his Aunt and Uncle? His aunt an uncle raised him and gave him food and shelter. You'd think that would get to him more than losing Ben.
Whatever, now I'm just babbling.
May the force be with you.
Live long and prosper.
Watch the tram car please.
Happy Birthday Chris!
OK, there's a lot to get to today...
First off, Hostess Orange Cupcakes. I'm having serious issues. I was in a deli with my buddy Damian Scro, and I said,"Where did all the Hostess Orange Cupcakes go?" I hadn't seen that particular type of cupcake anywhere for months! Then, out of nowhere...BAM!!!! Orange Cupcakes!!! Unbelievable. I had to buy a pair for myself. On Thursday morning I ate them for breakfast, and they gave me the runs for the rest of the day. WHAT THE FUCK?!?!
You know how certain super heroes get their powers via toxic chemical accidents. (e.g. daredevil) I think the same thing's happened to me. For the last few weeks there's been a funny smell in my basement/studio, and It got sooo bad this morning that I had to investigate further. It seems that a jar of rubber cleaner for my old analog equipment tipped over and spilled all over the window sill where I keep that stuff. So I've been breathing this shit in for weeks now! I think I discovered what super power I've received. I have the ability to remove large areas of my memory and replace them with songs. This is the only way I can explain what's been happening to me recently. I've learned more songs in the last 3 weeks than I have in the last 3 years. My brain couldn't fit this information anywhere. I was learning these songs in my basement as I was inhaling the toxic rubber cleaner. The combination of these things happening at the same time triggered my new super power to dump useless knowledge like important names, dates, and numbers, and replaced them with all the songs I've been learning. I had a good super hero name to fit these new powers I've acquired, but I forgot what it was.
This is a crazy time for Hit Me With It. Our substitutes did such a fantastic job that I had to keep them in the band. We're back to being a 5 piece. Dana's on lead vocals, and Bumblefoot's playing guitar, and synth guitar. It works out nicely, and it sounds great. We had yet another intense show on Tuesday This was the first time this lineup ever performed together, and in true Hit Me With It fashion it was completely unrehearsed. We had some great special guests come up to play including my father, and my friend Randy Jenkins. I made a cool little video montage of our show. It's on the Hit Me With It page.
First off, thanks to everyone who came down to our show last night. I had a blast and I hope everyone else had as much fun as I did. In particular I need to thank Bill McGrath of 13th Alibi for saving may butt last night...
I got home from work at 6 PM, ate dinner, then jumped into the shower. Around 7 PM, Bill called and asked if I needed help loading up. These last few weeks, I've had to bring a ton of equipment. I needed to bring a bass amp for Bumblefoot, and a monitor system for Dana. Bill showed up at around 7:10. I pulled mom's mini-van in front of the house. We loaded it up. It's 7:30 now. Went to start the van, and...nothing. The van that was working 20 minutes ago was dead. Luckily, Bill was there with my. We put half the gear in his car, the other half in mine, and we got there by 8:15.
THANK YOU BILL!
Also, thank you to JD from 13th alibi, and Andy Graziano, and Bo Gorgeous from Father G for sitting in.
Last night we had some interesting musical experiences. Someone in the audience requested Boston.
We brought our friend Chris Norberg up on stage to sing "More Than a Feeling." When that was done, Bumblefoot started playing "Peace of Mind." And when that was done, he went right into "Foreplay/Long Time." Andy Ascolese and I are huge Boston fans, so we had no problem with a Boston Medley.
Then Andy Graziano had the brilliant idea of playing Roundabout by Yes. That was also an interesting musical journey.
Like I said, last night was a lot of fun.
I bet you were wondering, Why it is necessary to bake old analog tapes? What a coincidence! I was wondering the same thing! Today on the discovery channel, there was a show called saving our sounds. It was about the audio engineers at the Library of Congress. It seems that as tape gets older, the oxide on the tape gets soft and moist. When you play the tape, the oxide will wear off on the tape heads. To prevent this, the tape is placed in an oven for a few hours. This procedure bakes the moisture out of the tape.
C is for Cookie.
This is the most suck-ass winter ever. I'm tired of looking at the snow. I feel like I'm on Hoth.
I'd like to say that I have officially survived another "HELL WEEK."
This Week I:
And on top of that, half of my band is MIA. I need to give my most sincere appreciation to Bumblefoot & Dana Emily for saving my ass these last 2 weeks by totally nailing the Hit Me With It gigs. They are among the most talented and professional musicians I have ever worked with.
I didn't get to watch batman beyond this week, but I did catch Samurai Jack. Now that show is NUTS! I Love It!
Thanks to the guy that jump started my car today. YOU ROCK!!! I am a complete moron for leaving my lights on all day.
Hit Me With It played Hunka Bunka last night. It was a really fun show. We played with 2 other bands called the Game, and Mugshot. We liked the guys from Mugshot so much that we went out to eat with them after the show. Go to my links page to check out their site.
Happy birthday Lauren "Free Trumpet" Castellano.
Anybody see that commercial for the Dave Chapelle show with Yoda & Darth Vader? Funny shit.
At this point in my life I want peanuts, not real peanuts, but those orange marshmallowy peanuts.
I caught the last 4 minutes of Batman Beyond today. To my relief, he's still cool. When I discovered that the voice actor from Batman Beyond is none other than "Boy Meets World's" Will Freidle, I was concerned, but Topenga is really hot, and therefore Batman Beyond is still cool.
Time to shower.
Everybody needs to check out the movie "Old School" starring Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn, and Will Ferrell. I laughed my ass off, and fell out of my seat.
Batman Beyond is cool.
I want peanuts.
I just turned 23, which isn't bad so far. I got to see 3 great bands in the last 2 weeks. Last Friday I saw 13th Alibi at the Elbow room in NYC. They were really good. On Saturday I saw Father G at the Gecko Lounge in Staten Island, I had a great time, we even got to do a little Progeny reunion with Andy Graziano. Last night I saw Liquid-V at Hunka Bunka in Sayerville, they were also really good. Definitely check these bands out. I have links to all their websites on my links page.
Tonight Hit Me With It is playing at KJ's Ale House on Nelson Ave. in Staten Island. I gotta go buy some speaker stands and bring Unreal Championship back to blockbuster. (If you have X Box, definitely check that game out.)
Happy Valentines Day. Welcome to the first installment of deep thoughts. This is where I get to post random stream of consciousness rants. I got this idea from the Brain May website. There's a section where he just says what's on his mind, and I thought that was cool. Let's get started:
Last month Andy Ascolese, Chris Kuffner, and I went to Anaheim, California to attend the 2003 Winter NAMM convention. NAMM stands for National Association of Music Merchants. Andy and I went as representatives of my father's music store, Chris went to demonstrate NS basses. We saw some really cool, and some really dumb stuff. On the cool side was a personal demonstration of the Kurzweil K-2600 keyboard from none other than Dream Theater's Jordan Rudess. He's a slammin player and a nice guy. He really knows what he's doing on the 2600. We also saw Stevie Wonder, Frank Gambale, Dave Weckl, Vinnie Callaiuta, and Jason Scheff to name a few.
I got the chance to check out a lot of great equipment this year. I played through some really nice amps. I was most impressed by the VHT valvulator amps. It had all the tube goodness in a double rack space. I NEED ONE OF THOSE!
Vox just released a Brian May amp, which brings me to another topic. This year at NAMM, there were 2 companies showing off their Brian May products, but no one at either company knew how to play Queen tunes. It was most disturbing. The Brian May amp sounded wierd until I plugged the new Burns Brian May guitar into it and played some Queen stuff. One of the demonstrators from Vox didn't even know the solo to Bohemian Rhapsody! Come on! At the Burns booth, there were no demonstrators, I plugged in at that booth and drew a crowd just by playing Queen songs. I loved the new Brian May products, but was disappointed by the presentation of them.
On another topic, I think it's a load of crap that I have to update to pro tools 6 to use both processors on my Mac I don't want to buy new plugins, I don't want to buy new pro tools, I don't want to switch to OS X, I don't want to use i-lock and eat up a USB port. It's DUMB!