A new music Project for me
I’ve signed on for a new musical project.
It’s a very intriguing situation which fits where I am in life right now both as a person and as a player.
I have had a profile on Bandmates for probably a year plus, and mostly it’s been a total waste of time. Basically, it’s like having a Guitarist Available add on a bulletin board. You specify what styles you are and want to play, and what kind of situation you’re looking for. And of course, you can look at other people’s adds and see if you’re interested in their situation. And no one or band (listed there) in the NYC area looked like any kind of fit for what I want to do. Big surprise, right?
So here’s what I put up: https://www.bandmix.com/dino-dave/ I figured a brutal, truth in advertising approach, plus my no-bullshit attitude would scare off and/or cut down on the obviously wrong musos contacting me. And it did. I've mostly heard nothing but crickets.
But then a few weeks ago, I get an email from this guy, Frankie, who’s looking for a guitarist. I go to his page to check him out. https://www.bandmix.com/frankie57/ And he has a bunch of songs on there, and I start listening to see if it’s anything I’m interested in. And what I hear is some very riffy, simple, punky, poppy, song demos, with very punky vocals. Definitely NOT a Dino vocalist (he’s only got about and octave and a half range). Certainly not what I’d call a perfect match for me, right off the bat. OTOH, the songs were riffy, tight — not sloppy punk, and raucous. I like raucous! They sounded like they might be — under the right circumstances, with solos, etc., rather fun to play.
So I emailed him back and said something like, your music seems to come from the punkier side of rock, and I come from the classic rock/metal side. Are you sure I’m what you’re looking for? I told him I'm not interested in changing what I do to fit a project. He emailed me back and assured me that, yes, he wants a lead player like me to come in and make the sound ballsier, and do Dino style guitar solos.
So I get on the phone with him, and things get more intriguing. Frankie lives in Florida (for health reasons) and apparently he has deep pockets. He’s putting a band/project together in NYC — all guys roughly my age — where I’d be the lead guitarist and another guy will be rhythm. Frankie will pay for the rehearsal space, and fly up to NYC as often as necessary to write, rehearse, and gig. He has 3 sons in the NYC area who he visits and stays with when he’s in town. Hmmmmm.
So I asked him how often does he envision rehearsing and gigging? He says once we get going, rehearse maybe once a week, gig about once a month. That lines up pretty much perfectly with the amount of commitment I’m willing to give to ANY music project. His ultimate goal, however, is to get the songs recorded and make an album. All of which, he will also pay for.
He then went on to say that NONE of the demo songs are “written in stone,” and he’s ACTIVELY looking for a guitarist like me to bring my style and my ideas to them. So I said I’d take a closer listen to his songs and make notes. He said he’d check out Feints to hear my work.
So with that in mind, I put on my arranger/producer hat, started listening, and noting anything I thought could be improved upon. And what I found was that there’s a LOT of good ideas there, but ALL of the ideas (IMO) needed some degree of arrangement work and song-doctoring. So I made notes like: what if we did this here with the second verse on this one, and maybe do this with the chorus on this other one. This song needs to go to G in the chorus. They ALL need solo sections, and some of them need to go to a different part for that. And production notes like: You’re cramming too many words into this verse. Your vocals on this one seem to be at the low end of your range and a little pitchy in places — would you be open to working with me to fix that? yada yada.
When I was done, it was a sufficient amount of notes that it would definitely test whether he truly was open and receptive to changes and new ideas. I had already had a brief try-out with a band last year that had some promise, but their stuff WAS apparently written in stone, warts and all, and it didn't work out.
So I emailed the notes off to Frankie and waited. In the interim, he found Feints, and totally lost his shit! When we spoke on the phone again, he told me he was totally blown away by Feints. Not only by the general song quality and production, but (like most people), he flipped out over Amy’s voice, and — this is new — my guitar work! AND when he realized/found out that I wrote all the guitar riffs, co-wrote all the songs, AND co-produced all of the music. He was over the moon! Then, when he reviewed my notes for his songs, he not only understood what I was getting at, he was in TOTAL AGREEMENT with ALL of my notes. I sense no lead-signer/writer ego trip from him AT ALL. He's well aware of his vocal limitations and actually wants to work with me to improve/polish his vocals, and make the songs great. He wants me to bring my Dino sauce to the project. Wants me to produce the eventual album. He just wants it to be as good as it can be.
How could I say no to all that? Furthermore, he and I are getting along really well. Perhaps because he agrees with everything I’ve suggested! Sure. But I sense it’s more than that. Yes, it’s early — too early for people to have shown their true colors yet — and I’m a suspicious bastard — but he seems to be a real mensch. A real person, with realistic expectations, and an understanding that people our age (including him) have lives, and jobs, despite this desired to still make music. He's NOT like: hey we're gonna get in a van and tour all over the Northeast for no money! Again, he’s a little older than me, so we have all the same musical references when we talk. So when I try to explain something using a musical example, he gets it.
So I’m starting to learn the first few songs. First thing I noticed when I started doing so is that if there’s another guitarist holding down these rhythms, I can add a shitload of really cool, complementary parts, sub hooks, and such. It could sound really interesting. Sort of a heavy rock, punky blend ala GnR, though Frankie doesn't have the Axl-type pipes.
I’ll be getting together with the rhythm guitarist to work out the arrangements based on my notes so we can record new demos that all of us can work off of. Once that’s done, I’ll be getting together with Frankie to polish his vocal parts. I’m not going to try and change him. I’m just going to try and get a little more character out of his voice, and perhaps tweak his vocal melodies bit so he's shouting less and singing a little more.
From my perspective, at least it’s something to do! And I need that. If it gets me gigging once a month, that'll be a good thing for me. I'll keep y'all posted.