It's Alive! Leveraging Technology In Our Live Sound

Pat says:

Some rock artists shun technology.  For instance, the iconic Jack White has said “Technology is a big destroyer of emotion and truth” and he clearly has made decisions in his career that reflect that opinion.

I must confess that I disagree. Certainly it’s true that If technology is used as a crutch to prop up untalented artists then it can have a detrimental effect on art and culture. But that need not be the case. If technology is used to enhance already good music then it can be an asset. Currently our band is trying to add two technological elements to our live sound:

1)     We have been incorporating prerecorded tracks – synths, strings and backup vocals – into our live sound. These are things we have already written and played (or our collaborator Phil Mann has written and played) and are simply added to the mix as we play through the songs during a show. We just don’t have the resources to have additional personnel on stage and this is an inexpensive way to help fill out our sound. I use my laptop and a Presonus interface to send the tracks into the house speakers.

2)     We are going to start using a Roland TM-2 drum module machine to transform our drum kit from purely an acoustic drum kit into a “hybrid kit”. By hybrid I mean that the audience hears both the original playing of our drummer Kyle as well as electronic drum hits on top of his playing. Electronic triggers are placed on the snare and kick drum and when the drum is struck it triggers the module to send an additional electronic hit to the speakers. This helps boost the punch and volume of the drums. It can also help the drums complement each particular song more – a more electronic song can have an 808 kind of vibe or a very dark song can have distorted, aggressive sounds.

Why are we going to the trouble of doing this? Firstly, it creates a more exciting, more dynamic experience for the audience. It provides a fuller sound inexpensively and we aren’t required to add more personnel to do it. Secondly, I think competitive pressure pushes us into making these decisions. If audiences are going to see bigger rock bands (or pop or EDM artists for that matter) then they set the level of quality they experience as an expectation for future concerts that they go to. As a smaller band we can't allow the gap between us and larger bands to be extremely wide in terms of sound quality and sonic detail.

In the end what really matters is how good our music is and how well we perform it – the technology is just used to enhance the music. If  this gear all crashes on us in the middle of a set then we would keep playing the tunes as normal (and some, less perceptive people may not even notice :) ). I am always looking for new ways to incorporate technology so keep on the lookout for more!

Pictures of Gear:

1) Drum Trigger Module

2) Gear For Backup Tracks

Feed Your Head: Inside the Mind of Pete

Pete says: 

So what is it? What are we doing? Where are we going? We've all got so many questions and no many answers in sight. At least not the ones we want to hear. 

Over the years life’s little curve balls can take their toll that's for sure. The defining decisions you'll have to face that can make or break you. The passion and desire that motivates and drives can sometimes feel like a burden and be discouraging. Do you always push for more or occasionally settle for what is given to you? It’s easy to end up in that grey area and feel no solution in sight. The question is how to get out of it. All of our ideas will differ. Things that seem so close can still be so far from your grasp and yet something else is right in front of you and you'll pass right by it. Most would probably think watching life pass you by is a waste. Go out and grab it, take what's yours. Live every day like it’s your last. We've all heard the clichés, but do we all have that inner strength to live with such drive day after day? When do you know enough is enough and it’s time to move on?

Just some of life's random thoughts and questions that rattle around in my head. 

The Band Also Known As a Rocket Ship

Aaron says:

It’s been almost a year since I joined this rocket ship known as Chaser Eight. I refer to it as such not just because of the speed in which it’s gaining momentum, but also in the context of the extreme heat and passion that burns deep within all the components involved. I have been a guitarist since the age of 12 and throughout the years I played around on the keys a bit too. Even though I've played the keys here and there, it was never with any of the intensity required to be up to par with the likes of the members of Chaser Eight. It has been a sobering and challenging endeavor to make those black and white keys match up to the rocking style Pat and *AUDRA* bring to the stand.

As a musician, with my main instrument of choice being guitar, playing the keys is a whole different animal. Yes, they both have the same notes possible, and yes, the format of the piano is more uniform. All that aside, one must take in consideration the methods and the patters to each animal. For those of you who are not musically inclined I’ll give a simple example: Scales on a guitar basically have the same pattern in a given key signature i.e. A minor. If you want to play in B minor, just move up two frets and play the same pattern, boom. You want to play C minor? Move up one fret from B minor. D minor? Two from there and so on and so forth. But for piano it's not that easy. For every different key signature you play in there is a different combination of black and white keys needed to make it fit. It’s not just black and white, but alas, I will prevail!

I do like the opportunity and the challenge entrusted to me by my band mates and I look forward to expanding my skills to compliment the rock tones created by the five of us. I am, at the core, a guitarist and get many chances to play on stage. However, as time rolls on, my core will assimilate keys into the whole of being a rock musician with the awesomeness known as Chaser Eight. If you have heard us, that's great; you have an idea what we’re about. If you have seen us, you know what we’re about and how we rock. And if you haven’t done either of the two, well shame on you! This rocket ship is not slowing down for anyone. So climb aboard and take a ride up to the stars with us. Full speed ahead! Hope to see you there.

 

I'm King of the World. Or Queen. No, KING!

*AUDRA* says:

"Your dressing room is this way."

That’s what our escort backstage said. My response, “exsqueeze me, a baking powder?” (borrowed from Wayne’s World) probably wasn’t the best, but it was all I had. Here we were, being escorted backstage to our dressing room. OUR DRESSING ROOM! Not just a little closet, mind you, but a real, freakin’ huge dressing room. With a full bar, buffet, and someone completely at our disposal to procure a hair dryer (required!).

We were competing in a regional contest at Mohegan Sun, this night one of two acts in an eight-week weekly competition. I fully expected to unload our gear, get on stage, and get off. Boy, was I wrong. 

First was the dressing room. Next, the sound check. What a professional, courteous, knowledgeable set of people! We’re used to 30-second sound checks. Nope, not tonight. 40 minutes. We’ve never sounded so good. The sound guys, who, at this point, had been at work for many hours setting up the stage, repeatedly commented how great we sounded and that they were looking forward to the set. What a great way to begin the night. The coup de grace was that we were going to go on last. Headliners!

Suitably excited, the wait set in. It’s 4:40pm. We go on at 9:30pm. What do we do? Gamble! 

Just kidding. Our manager, the band, and I ate a nice, leisurely, ((expensive)) dinner (during which we booked a gig for January), and just had a lot of laughs and smiles, including discussing how cool it would be to win at Roulette on number 8. (Our manager, who got married on 8/8/2008, who coincidentally manages Chaser Eight – DID win $700 on a $20 bet on number 8 on the very first (and only) spin of the wheel - which made for a great beginning night, too). 

And then the music started. We went on last, and played to a full house. We completely crushed the set. In fact, I ripped my finger open during the finale, and have the bloodied guitar to prove it (picture here). Afterwards, the crew, emcee, and even the bartender across the theater came up to us saying how well we did. What a tremendous feeling.

I won’t know for a while if we “won” the contest, but I do know that even a few days later, I’m still on Cloud 9 (or Cloud 8 for Chaser Eight). It’s going to stink going back to small venues, but knowing that we completely rocked that arena is such an amazing feeling that makes it all worth it. Knowing I can get back there and that I was good enough to be there in the first place, is what will motivate me until the next time. And the next.

Oftentimes, we don’t take the time to enjoy what we have. We make excuses for why we’re not happy, or for why we just got in a fight, or settle for something less than what we want. Heck, even I was thinking about our next gig not even an hour after we got off this awesome stage after an awesome set! That’s how I’m wired. But, and it’s a huge BUT, I’m taking the time now to enjoy and revel in the experience. It makes it all worth it.