Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Good Sessions

April has been a month of hard work. After some long breaks we got back to a solid jamming schedule and have seen the creation of two new songs...we also picked up one we hadn't sung for six months or more, a Devil Tree oldie as it were, and it was spot on tight, a big encouragement.

We are still working with the anticipation of playing out as well as staying committed to the eventual release of a collection of our finished songs but we are taking time to let new ideas happen as well.

Looking forward to Norman Music Festival for a rest and a time to drink in the energy of other musicians and people out loving and drinking in music...our time will come!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Impressive Transformation

So a few years ago I meet these guys. A dude and his son. We were playing D&D back then. The group broke up, the game ended. Partly on my end because I really wanted to get back to playing music. I kept in touch with them though and a couple of years later, Justin sends me some blues lyrics he's written. Really good ones. His big mistake though, was he sent me a sound file of him singing them. I thought "Damn this guy can actually sing".

We get this band going and everything and each time we jam, I hear so much improvement in Levi and Justin. Not that they sucked to begin with but I just got back from jamming and I heard stuff today I was really impressed by. That harmonica was WAILING!

Levi has really become a solid drummer. Everything is getting so much better. I better up my game.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Recent Sun Stuff....

It's been forever and a day since the weblog has been updated.

Hopefully 2015 will be a year where creative endeavors are front and center.....

It's actually been a little over a year and a half since Devil Tree started jamming and creating original music together in a shed in a backyard in Midwest City.

We have stayed busy and creative, although big life changes in members' worlds have cut in on our sessions a bit the last couple of months.

We did have a fruitful session last week however out of which came a song we are happy with and which will be uploaded here shortly as soon as the video editing is complete.

"Soul Defender" is a song that just happened while we were riffing and letting the music create it's own mood and direction, and the lyrics came after some of the more solid structural ideas were in place.

That's actually my favorite way to do music and I think its going to me more common with our sessions.

There have been a few times where I was really kind of high and tranced out just stewing in the the experimenting and free form playing of the band without any words at all.

From there, certain images or concepts begin to suggest themselves and the lyrics start as fragments that evolve a bit until there is a whole written verse structure.

With a lot of our early material the lyrics and melody ideas were brought to the band and they tried, successfully in my opinion, to build a song from that. But the other way--building from the live sound--well, that works better in so many ways.

So we'll definitely be experimenting more with that stream of consciousness mode!

Stay tuned for the soon to be posted video of "Soul Defender"!


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Mr. Levi Becker, percussions!
Yesterday was a great session! We were all getting used to using the JamHub, which is a terminal for headphones to allow us to rock silently as it were. I will probably blog about the Great Noise Debacle at a later date, but suffice it for now to say that Alan, Brent and Erick dug deep to solve the problem of noise pollution, which Rock and Roll ain't, I've heard. There is a fine line between being good neighbours and facilitating artistic expression.

We were stopped dead in our tracks till the JamHub was introduced, unless we wanted to argue with police...anyway, it lets us all hear each other  and adjust for mixing and recording, and it was very different.

Some of us loved it, some were'nt so sure. But overall, its going to make us a better unit because it lets you hear, up close, every little mistake. It also allows us to record tracks with selective instruments and vocals--we can hear all of  them on our headphones but choose which sounds we want to actually record, which lets us go back and lay in multi tracks for cleaner sound.

We rehashed a song we've done many times every session now, Love is a Suicide, and though at first I was getting a little tired of the same song every session, at the end of the jam I understood that in order to become good, we've got to make every song as perfect as we can get it. You could hear a major difference after so many runs, weekend after weekend. Getting tighter, cleaner, and working out bugs.

We also began work on a new song, tentatively titled the Ace of Cups, a song about holding out for the restoration of love no matter what bumps come ina  relationship, even apparent endings. We feel good about it.

Working on new material after focusing on earlier tunes is a good way to unwind...the ongoing efforts feel alot like work but playing with new stuff is a great way to unwind and let go after some intense efforts.

I feel thankful to be in this band and appreciate everyone there. A new set of electric drums was also part of the day's experimentation and Levi took them pretty quick.

Erick and Alan gearing up!

Brent: What, me worry?

Levi at work!

We've got this.

Jamming is good!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Garden of the Dead First Run

Garden of the Dead

This song was born on the job at a machine shop.

I was at work at the steel saws when a co-worker and friend, Sean, who knew that I wrote songs and jammed with friends, came to me with the first verse of this song and said he was hearing something punk in his head.

 It caught my imagination, and I began to work out a melody and some possible riffs along with the rest of the words. Brent and Alan delved a bit and came up with the riffs and bass line you hear in this tune, and I think my son Levi developed a great percussion for the song.

Lyrically, it was greatly influenced by an experience at a concert by a local Norman Oklahoma group. I'd left my fiancĂ©e's house early because she had to put kiddos to bed and bid me farewell for the evening,  and I wasn't even close to wanting to head back home to my cat and my record collection.  So I went to a neat venue called the Opolis and listened to these guys who were awesome, the Pool Boys.

While I was in the crowd enjoying the music and having a beer, I overheard these kids standing next to me. 

Okay, not kids...when you're 43 people who are 19 and 20 seem like kids. But they are actually the world's adults.

Anyway, they were talking about a mutual acquaintance and one of them said, "Oh yeah, I met her the other night. She came over to my boyfriends house and we almost got in a threesome."

For some reason that comment influenced the direction of the song. And I think that's kind of cool, that a random comment overheard accidentally by a stranger is woven into the process of a song. 

Made me think that that happens alot with singers, poets, authors, painters and film makers, and if that's so, it shows that we are all alot more connected on a subconscious level than we might think at first glance, because  all of us are in an artist's art in some incalculable fashion. There's this ethereal web connecting us and endlessly creating itself anew. 

Some old guy was probably the inspiration for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band song "Mr Bojangles". Music was the way the Universe took such a strange character in bittersweet straits and made him live forever for as long as that song is heard. All because a songwriter noticed such a guy, or heard a story about him--I don't know the history of that song but even if it was pure invention, I'm sure it had a thread of a likeness running through it somewhere.

But I digress to strange philosophizing. Must be the hour.

Anyway, we are at odds in the band about song length...some of us want some tracing music and others think the tune is too long and want to compress. Erick wasn't with us when this video was made but he has been helping develop the tune very nicely. 

Don't judge the mistakes here too harshly--this vid is fairly old and we are working hard to get a cleaner and more melodic upload--the finished product as it were. We would like some electronic effects mixed in too, to help carry the listener along, something to kind of relax you for a second before the final wave, kind of like, well you know. Yeah, we're not right, as Brent would say.

But overall, though you can tell we were still feeling our way through parts, we feel the song has chops. Some friends have told me it's too long, I see their point, but we have an end in mind, and for me, I like the instrumental section of this song, even if we had a bump getting into it. I love the long lead with it's little beeps and the bass dancing underneath. 

As an interesting side note, the sudden primal scream you hear come in alongside the second verse was not scripted--it came about because another musician named Brian was in the Bourbon Shed with us watching the OU game. OU had just scored a touchdown and Brian vocalized his elation in a manner that would not interrupt our recording. You can see our bassist Alan, also a big OU fan, look up and watch the game even as he continues to hammer along. Hey, it worked out, the scream is very cool, I think. Brent, Alan and Brian are part of another band called Reverend Gunn along with Alan's nephew Wes.

Thanks for reading.

Garden of the Dead Lyrics

I was walkin down the street
But my head was in the sea
Where I found you underneath me
In that Garden of the Dead in that Garden of the Dead.

In the Garden plant a seed
Is it a flower? Is it a weed?
Is it something understood?
Is it evil, is it good?
Is it what you like? Is it what you need?
Either way, you're gonna feed
Either way, you're gonna bleed
In that garden of the dead, in that garden of the dead.

I saw a beast in the garden of the dead
Had two backs had two eyes in it's head
It had two souls but it only had one will
It lived to die, it died to live, it had to kill
It gave a hiss it a gave a roar it gave a moan
It had a heart of flesh that slowly turned to stone
It was well fed but it always wanted more
Youre a sinner youre a saint youre a whore

In that garden of the Dead!

Such pretty petals in the Garden of the Dead
Too bad they cut you like a knife
Lets make a Garden of Love instead
Lets make a Garden of Life