From Studio to Stage
I hung up my gigging boots back in August 2017. After two years of giving it all of my effort as a solo artist, I had fallen out of touch with other aspects of music making that I love so much, including studio work. I'm a man of extremes, so for the next 12 months, I dedicated myself to the studio, releasing new recordings and songs every month. It was the breath of (not so) fresh air that I needed. Being hidden away in my home studio gave me time to experiment, go down some rabbit holes, and find my voice a bit more. But all good things must come to an end. I've opened the door and have my first gig in over a year coming up on Friday.
I now found myself in the position of translating the work I've done in the studio to the stage. Without an approximately 20 piece band at my disposal, I was left with no choice but to make some changes. Every aspect of the music was on the table, including song choice, structure, key, and instrumentation. That can be a bit overwhelming, especially for songs that were written in the studio. Well, it was time to rip off the band-aid! (pun 100% intended.)
I chose to start with instrumentation. I've known for a while that I'm a stronger electric guitar player than acoustic. Add in my desire to keep my set up as simple as possible and I concluded to stick to a single electric guitar, amp, and pedals. This setup would allow me the maximum amount of tones with minimum gear. I always want to be sure that I keep things as interesting as possible for the audiences' ears. I started playing with my pedals (Earthquaker Nightwire, Moog Minifooger Delay, Neunaber Seraphim Mono Shimmer, Boss RC-1 Loop Station, Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive) and came up with some base levels and pleasing combinations.
Next I started playing songs exactly as I did when I recorded/wrote them, but with the electric guitar set up. Using a loop station can certainly free things up for solos and texture building, but it can also be risky and a logistical nuisance. The RC-1 is quite basic, so you essentially get one shot to get it right. For me, it requires a little too much concentration at times, so I decided to use it sparingly. Because I essentially set my restrictions (electric, pedals, voice), the songs started to take shape pretty quickly within those confines and others were cut. The songs had to be dynamic, utilize different effect combinations, and still stay true to the original sentiment and intentions. Not only that, but the effects had to amplify those sentiments. (Again, pun totally intended.) I cut a few intros that depended on lead lines that I couldn't create in this setting, and replaced them with simpler ones that still set the scene/key. For the most part though, the biggest change and focus was dynamics. Overdrive and the Mono Shimmer both do wonders to add that extra push over the edge.
Things sound a lot different, but it's been fun to rework these songs in a new exciting way. I look forward to presenting this smaller version of Next Paperback Hero to new ears in hopes of enticing them in for another listen.