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

A (Much Overdue) Rant: In the Key of Rock

*AUDRA* says:

"Does nobody like rock n roll now? Well I don’t really think so."

Above is a quote from one of our newest songs. At first glance, when I was told to sing it, I thought, "How untrue is this?! People love rock music!"

Well over the course of my (extremely awesome and fast-moving) career with Chaser Eight I've learned a couple truths about the music scene. Allow me to enumerate:

1. Rock is dead. I didn't want to believe it, but it is. True rock that is and especially if you're a woman. The days of Janis Joplin, No Doubt, Garbage, Hole, etc., are over. And that's much to my dismay and sadness. Mostly because girl rockers rule. Seriously.

2. Covering other artists songs makes you way more popular than playing original tunes. This goes for making YouTube videos and performing in a live cover band. I honestly had no idea this had become a career path.

3. If you're a hot guy lead singer you have a better shot of making fans than a hot girl lead singer. Unless you are in the cover band and wear midriff bearing clothes on stage.

Sidebar: Sorry, I'm not dressing up half naked to parade around stage with a wireless mic and dance like I'm earning dollars. I play a white Gibson SG through a Orange Dual Terror and a Roman Custom Cab. And when I'm not playing my microphone game is that of Freddie Mercury: a commanding staff yielding rock power.

4. Pop music has taken over. People would much rather see the hot guy lead singer and/or midriff bearing woman sing upbeat, sappy love songs than hearing the cry of an electric guitar. Pop AND new wave hip indie music. There are a lot of those "indie" bands these days and, yes, it pisses me off. You're so contradictory, clever, ironic, and hip. Get an amp that goes above 1 and rock your ass off for a change. Oh and eat something.

5. If you say you support us, than come out and support us. Live gigs are only as successful as the fans that walk through the door. Get off the couch and listen to good music.

So, put down your iPhone and step away from the crappy pop tunes and support rock music again! There was a revolution in the 60s and 70s. Music was being created that you could hear and feel. Can we get back to that? Or at least get back to the point where people support that?

Note: I'm not hating on the hot guy lead singer or midriff bearing woman and the poppy cover songs they perform. Nor am I hating on the new wave hip indie band. There is room for all of us and everyone has their own path to follow. Just because I think it's soulless work doesn't mean that people don't enjoy it. Actually, it's quite the contrary. I know people love it. Do you. We'll do us. And maybe our paths will cross.

Another note: There several acts in this area that I respect and appreciate for their talent and dedication to their craft. I'll name a few: Seth Adam, Chris Grillo, The Smyrk, When Particles Collide, Atrina (Andre Roman),Goodnight Blue Moon (Nick D'Errico), Echo & Drake, Broadcast Hearts, Moving Brooklyn, Porcelain Clocks, Deception Fades, Danny Henry, and Kevin Reed (I see those videos you're posting on Facebook. Fantastic. Keep it up, kid. Help bring rock back).

So, now, I ask, "Does nobody like rock n roll now?"

End rant. 

Party Like a Rock Star

Pat says:

Tonight, HBO will air the Induction Ceremony for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 2014 Class. This year's inductees includes Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, KISS, Hall & Oates, Linda Ronstadt, and Cat Stevens. Though they are all deserving in their own ways, it is Nirvana that is really the significant choice here. The grunge trio is the first quintessential 90's band to get into the Hall and their honoring raises a very interesting and obvious question: what other contemporary rock bands have any kind of chance of getting in?

Sure their are some guaranteed first ballot Hall of Famers like Pearl Jam, but for the most part after Nirvana's demise, multi-platinum, arena rock groups became an endangered species. From the late nineties right up until now, The charts have been dominated by rappers and pop stars. It's artists like Eminem and Beyonce that have moved 1 million units in a week and sold out Yankee Stadium, not The Killers or Kings of Leon. So what is the Hall going to do? Will it embrace these kinds of pop and rap artists and induct them in? I suspect that ultimately they will have to. Really there is no other choice.

Let's first look at the kind of artists that the Hall's Committee selects. Though some critical darlings (Elvis Costello) and early influences (Robert Johnson) get selected, for the most part the Hall selects big-time acts that have made the industry a lot of money. Critical success matters a little (it took KISS a long time to get in) but not nearly as much as financial success and popularity (KISS still ultimately got in).

Additionally, the relevant contemporary artists that sound the most like traditional rock bands are indie groups like Wilco, Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend and some others. And let's face it. None of them are ever getting in (even more popular indie groups from past decades like Sonic Youth and Pavement haven't even gotten in yet). They just simply aren't popular enough and just exist in today's fragmented music landscape as niche artists. Popularity is what gets the most fans to tune into the induction ceremony and then to visit the museum later on. Tupac, Beyonce, Eminem, Kanye West, Jay-Z,  and Taylor Swift are the kinds of artists that have been consistently popular. These are the rock stars of the last 15 years.

This will be contentious no doubt. Many purists will decry that these artists are not rock musicians! Rock music has to have guitars and snare drums to be authentic! But "rock" is really just another way of saying, "popular music that young people listen to." Rock n' roll initially referred to a type of music from the 1950s that bears only a passing resemblance to most of what we have come to consider part of the genre. How much do The Police and Metallica (both inductees) really have in common with Fats Domino (also an inductee)? I certainly hope that guitar rock comes back, but lets face it: this type of music wasn't the dominant force over the past 15 plus years and there are very few guitar/bass/drum bands during this time that will meet the Hall of Fame's traditional criteria for admittance.

Some traditional rock acts like The White Stripes, No Doubt, and Radiohead will still get in, but for the most part the Rappers held sway over this era. As Jay-Z reminds us "that bloke from Oasis said I couldn't play guitar, Somebody shoulda told him I'm a fuckin rock star." When the time comes, I don't think the Hall of Fame Committee will need too much reminding.

 

 

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.