Archives for: July 2016

Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto Interview on Efekto TV (Mexico TV Station)

Came across this interview with Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto today:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdBDGZGH4Io

Interesting quotes by Pat:

[Interviewer]: Why did you make a huge jump from pop/ pop rock to progressive music, that is a complicate genre?

Well, I don’t quite view it like that. I just view it as music. It’s pop music, jazz music. It’s electronic music, world music, it’s all music. Mr. Mister, Hall & Oats, many, many things I did. Pointer Sisters, The Rembrandts, who had the big TV song – but I still like progressive music. I like arty music, so even as a little boy, I listened to [King] Crimson, Genesis, Peter Gabriel and these bands, so that’s always an underlying influence of who I am as a person.

[Interviewer]: King Crimson, the most important band of progressive rock – you’re like the survivors of that genre.

Yeah, King Crimson is active again now for the last 2 and a half years. Very different band now, 7 people in the band and 3 drummers. So I hope we come to play in Mexico perhaps next year with King Crimson.

[Interviewer]: How can you define the current sound of King Crimson now?

I think King Crimson is its own genre. People say it sounds like King Crimson when they talk about Primus or other bands, so King Crimson is its own genre.

[Interviewer]: Why make [an improvised] song so long, because they last even more than 5 or 20 minutes?

We don’t try to make a song any particular length. When you’re working up a piece of music, the music tells you how long it needs to be. As you rehearse it, you’d go, “This just feels too long,” or “it feels like it needs to go longer.” You just have a feeling as a musician.

Review: “Truefire Steve Vai – Alien Guitar Secrets: Passion & Warfare”

Steve Vai has a new instructional video out with Truefire called Alien Guitar Secrets: Passion & Warfare. Unlike most of the guitar instructional videos out there where the videos typically show note-for-note ideas and specific techniques, this series of videos here consist mostly of Vai talking about his philosophies and approaches in both his playing and compositions.

Many of his things he talked about could be found in his interviews online, his Alien Guitar Secrets seminar, (which I also attended several years ago,) especially the philosophical-type of talk. That content were to be found in mostly the first half of the video series. But the videos were done really well in that they are well organized and focused without going off too much to a tangent. While the philosophical topics were interesting, I found the videos in the latter half with him breaking down his songs from his record “Passion and Warfare” to be fantastic. That record, of course was an iconic record, not just in guitar playing, but the compositions, the compositions/arrangements of the songs, the engineering and mixing part of it were all so perfect. For him to go over the songs, pointing out his compositional and arrangement methods for each was unbelievable.

Here are a couple of things that I remembered, off the top of my head.

  • All the different sound effects he used, such as:
    • Slapping strings
    • Blowing into the guitar on the side against the strings and pickups to get a flute sound
    • Sounds created by tapping his finger on the unplugged end of a patch cable going into an amp.
    • Hitting the strings with the whammy bar
    • Scraping sounds
    • Sound coming from detaching a whammy bar
    • Strumming the strings from behind the nut
  • Reverse technique:
    • Writing a composed part
    • Transcribing each note of each instrument backwards
    • Playing and recording through the backward transcription along with a click for each instrument
    • Flipping the tape backwards to there’s a recorded effect but with notes of the original un-reversed composition

He would use these sounds or reverse effects and sometimes they would appear in just really small sections of songs, sometimes even as a backdrop, and sometimes as the main parts.

Other things:

  • Consciously writing a song that don’t have a melody as part of his vision
  • Chord substitutions
  • Call and response
  • Duplets, Triplets, Quintuplets, Septuplet (which he had also gone in depth in the past)
  • Getting familiar with time signatures that are in 13 (based on the Frank Zappa song “Thirteen”) and the phrasing of the time signature.
  • Getting familiar with Septupets (it’s actually quite tricky when the tempo’s fast, getting that picking/strumming technique down and locked in)
  • Taking a groove off a song he loved, tweaked it to his liking, changed the tempo and used it in his own song.
  • Using sampled instruments (back when samples just started to sound good)
  • Not using vibrato (very minimal) in the first verse’s melody of the song, and then playing with exaggerating vibrato in the 2nd verse’s melody for contrast.

Still a lot of material for me left to watch, but it’s been quite fun and inspiring watching all this thus-far.

Transcription for MakeWeirdMusic.com

Screen capture of video by Anthony Garone (MakeWeirdMusic.com), interviewing Teddy Kumpel.

History and Background

I became a fan of MakeWeirdMusic.com ever since I first watched the site’s video interviews with Mike Keneally and Steve Vai. The interviews revolve around the musician’s upbringing, their philosophies in their work – be it compositions or performance, and various interesting things they have done in their careers, (that you may or may not know about,) to get to where they are. If you ever watched the video interviews, you can really tell the amount of dedication and effort that go into each one of them. The interviews are always conducted in a way that the guest is always relaxed and feels comfortable sharing what “makes them tick” in the most honest and detailed manner. The video, lighting, multiple-camera editing/ captures, transcriptions, preparations, logistics and website management that all go into each interview really show the love that site-owner Anthony Garone puts in. (Anthony also interned at Steve Vai’s studio growing up and is quite an awesome composer in his own right.)

From Anthony’s website:

What is “Weird Music?”

“Weird music” doesn’t have to be unenjoyable, but it should be interesting! Radiohead is very popular and very weird. Dirty Loops does virtuosic covers of Justin Bieber and Britney Spears music. Avishai Cohen makes music that even my wife can enjoy. Being “weird” should indicate an effort to go against the grain a little bit and express your individuality.

How I got involved

I reached out to Anthony couple of weeks ago asking if there’s anything I could do to help out. I got to help transcribe the Teddy Kumpel interview, which you can check out here. If you prefer to watch the video, you can find that here too. It was a really fun interview to listen to and there were some really cool quotes. Teddy’s response to the final question where Anthony asks about being “weird” and finding one’s own voice was fantastic.

Hopefully I’ll get to continue to help the site in the future. Anthony’s always looking for more help (be it labor, finance, sponsor support, publicity, or anything else you can think of). So if you enjoy the content as much as I do, reach out to him. But most importantly, please help spread the word about the website!!