A Return to Rock

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So, against all odds, the late-great indi pop trio Superficial Hero seems to be making a minor comeback…. After a couple evenings of nostalgia in Seattle, Dylan and I decided that some of the songs we were working on before our breakup really need to be recorded for posterity’s sake.  This decision has since snowballed into a mini-comeback with the re-registering of superficialhero.com where you can download our original, circa 1999, Castaway EP.  The first batch of this EP sold out in like 15 minutes after or first performance at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, and now it is available FOR FREE!!!  

Oh, man, can’t wait to record some of our later stuff.

Thanks for the upload, Dill.  I’m gonna start working on remembering these bass lines, now.

C of Sound

In Pixels, Music 5 Comments

This is a quick sketch I did in a coffee shop of the character in a 3D short I am planing on making.  I’ve had lots of false starts on 3D projects and I am hoping that posting my progress on this site will help keep me motivated to continue.  

The story is called the C (like the C clef) of Sound.  The old man in the sketch is a fisherman on a ratty old rowboat.  He baits a hook and casts it into the water.  When it hits the surface, instead of making a splashing sound, it makes some sort of musical noise.  After a while, he starts getting bites, and each time the bobber dips under the surface, it makes an out of tune sound.  
When he sets the hook, things really start taking off.  The line is pulled this way and that with piano scales running up and down and the like. 

When he finally pulls his catch out of the water, it bursts fourth with a cacophonous eruption of sound, like an orchestra tuning and timpani pounding.  Attached to the end of his line is a musical note.  

The end.

What do you think?  I am open to suggestions.  In fact, it would be fun to make this a bit of a collaborative project.  I certainly could use the help on sound editing towards the end.

I know this is way out of my league in the way of 3D projects, but I don’t like doing things half assed and I really hope to learn a lot, even if the final project won’t exactly land me an internship at Pixar.

By the way, don’t get too excited about this one just yet.  I am still planning on finishing the Car Commercial video before I get going on this.

A Notion of Motion

In Pixels, Music 2 Comments

Those who know me are aware of my love for playing with Maya and C4D to make half finished models and sub-par animations. Unfortunately, I have never had the motivation, the chutzpah if you will, to see a project to completion (for more on my artistic movement of Unfinishedism, go here). So I figured I would take a different tack. I am trying to learn some new software.

I recently acquired a copy of Motion, Apple’s answer to After Effects. I imagine myself making any number of visually stunning animated abstractions, accompanied by tasteful aural washes. It’s a good thing I can imagine it, cause God knows I’ll never get around to actually finishing one!

Anyhow, I thought the perfect start would be making a music video for Car Commercial, Superficial Hero’s most commercially “successful” song. The great thing about making a video for a Superficial Hero song is that asking permission is so easy because I was in the band!

Hey Reed, can I use your song in one of my projects?

Sure you can!

See how easy that was? It’s just a matter of…

Wait a minute. On second though, I wasn’t the only member of the band, I know.

Sure, but I would assume that Dylan wouldn’t mind.

Well, you know what they say? When you assume, you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me.” And in this case, since it’s an internal dialogue, it’s more like an ass out of “me” and “me.” That’s like being an ass squared. You don’t want that.

Wow. I’m not even going to let myself use my own song. I really AM an ass. Well screw me! Here it is anyway, sans video!

Car Commercial

The longest month of the year, or, Bloc Pary rocks the block…party

Music 4 Comments

Sorry for the LONG absence. I have been (a) unmotivated to write, (b) discouraged by the seemingly endless spam that somehow breaks through my countless filters and banned words, (c) a lazy punk. Things here haven’t been much different. February was officially the longest month of the year this year, at least for Nicole and me. Both of our international driving permits expired last month and we had to fight through the Japanese bureaucracy to earn our Japanese licenses. It was almost enough to make us give up, but we are both happy we had the strength of will to persevere. I knew that it would be a true living experience, and I feel like I know the country all the better for having gone through it. I feel like I can now say that I LIVED in Japan. Nicole’s blog has some good details about her experience. I was kind of thrown into the test the first time, having no idea what to expect. My boss just took me to the “DMV” and said, “now you will pass the test,” and I didn’t. After that I had a month to take some driving classes in which I learned all the ridiculously meticulous details you must know to pass the test. I have no idea how my boss thought I could pass without even being exposed to those ideas, but it is past now, and Nicole and I both have out licenses.

To celebrate, we went to see Bloc Party in Tokyo on the 4th of March. I have always enjoyed their music, and, despite some sound and equipment issues, their live show was fantastic. Live music has the ability, for me, to both increase my appreciation for a band, or ruin their music for me. Luckily, they really rocked the block…party…and I went away with a greater appreciation for their recorded music as well.

Music is something I have felt a bit distanced from of late. Nicole has been very good about keeping up on the current bands, and I have relied a lot on her for new music. I hope that changes when I get my new iPod next month. Let me know if you have any suggestions or new music tastes.

Fuji Rock your socks off

Music 3 Comments

A lot has happened since the last entry: a visit to the monkey/ninja infested town of Nikko, an Italian opera about Japan, a bunch of stuff that you can read about over at Nicole’s blog. Today I want to talk about last Sunday and Fuji Rock Festival.

Fuji Rock Festival is Japan’s biggest rock festival, and it is world famous as one of the best music festivals in the world. The bands booked for the three-day event run from some of the largest names in rock, such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to the obscure Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (who sadly had to bow out due to vocal chord problems, possibly brought on by the singers unique brand of singing).

Because of our busy work schedule, we were only able to attend on Sunday, the last day of the festival. Despite the misleading name, the festival is held at a ski resort in Niigata prefecture, not at Fuji-san, which is nice because Naeba Ski Resort is only about an hour and a half drive from here. While the scenery was not as famous it was every bit as beautiful.

We started the day off with a dose of Taiko Drumming by a band called Kodo. I have wanted to see Kodo since high school when my friend Nick saw them in San Francisco for his Birthday and brought me a tape. It was a moving experience of lung-shaking drum beats with guys in underwear pounding 10 food Taiko drums. It was unfortunate that we only got to see the last part of the show.

We stayed that the same stage for the next band, the Refugee All-Stars of Sierra Leon. A nice dose of rock steady, reggae beats with some African vibes and traditional dancing. There was a good energy coming from the band and audience as people cheered for the representatives of the war-torn nation.

After that was a French band called Rinoçerose (sorry I can’t type the circumflex) who were an interesting mix of hardcore techno and glam rock. The lead singer came on stage wearing a robe with the microphone stuffed in his underwear. It was a scene I was surprised to see in Japan and brought now meaning to the phrase “Rock out with your cock out.”

After Rinoçerose, We went to see Snow Patrol, from Scotland. I left midway through the set to go see Broken Social Scene, who were one of the highlights of the day. Their music was energetic and well performed, and their stage presence was playful. After they finished their set, the crowd began to disperse, but some people stayed and cheered, then a strange thing happened for a festival. They came back out and gave us an impromptu encore. I have a feeling the next band was running late, for which I am thankful because the last song was a brand new one that no one had heard before and it was excellent. We also bumped into Saleema and Dave, some friends from Tokyo, at the BSS show, and spent parts of the rest of the day with them. Nicole originally met Saleema in France; it goes to show how small the world is.

Then the fun really picked up when we went to see the Raconteurs, Jack White’s new band. This was when the rock really started flowing and you could feel it in the audience, like the day was building up energy for the last few bands. The Raconteurs rock more live than they do on CD so I am glad I got to see them. I will definitely go to another show next time I have a chance. The highlight of their set was a cover of the Nancy Sinatra song, Bang Bang. Jack sang it with such emotion, I felt for sure there was a story behind his choosing to cover that particular song, but it could just be his genius as a musician as well.

After the Raconteurs came the Stokes, who we left early because their live show is pretty much like listening to their CD. We hurried from the Stroke to see the Supper Furry Animals, who totally rock live. Their presence is fun and goofy, one guy played the last song with a Red Power Ranger helmet on.

The final band of the day was Mogwai, who were good, but I have just never gotten really into them. I was glad to see them live, though.

We got out of the festival grounds by around 1 am after a good 14 hours of Rock.