Skip to content
Notifications
Clear all

We got a gig!

33 Posts
8 Users
0 Reactions
5,121 Views
(@progressions)
Posts: 320
Reputable Member
Topic starter
 

Hey everyone,

Got some more updates on what's been going on with World Racketeering Squad. I've been filling out my pedal set lately to give me a lot more control on our songs. Got a CryBaby, a Maxon OD808, Big Muff Pi, and an Ibanez CS-9 stereo chorus. I've started running the stereo outputs to my Vox AD30VT and my little Kustom amp, just for fun.

After complaints from my neighbor, we've started renting rehearsal space and practing there on Saturdays. It's great to get to focus in an environment where we won't be distracted, and where we can turn up loud. Although my ears are still ringing from when we played a bit of "Hey Hey, My My". I really turned it up too loud in that case, I've gotta be careful. Need to get some earplugs for sure.

We spent November playing 3 open mics a week, focusing on the same set list to hone the songs and get them tight. As a result, we got a studio recording of one song, we got our first bar gig, and built up our mailing list and made some great friends!

This month we're doing it a little different. We're taking the first week of December off for the most part--my left hand's been getting sore and I want to get it rested up. We're going to find some new open mics we haven't played at before, just to branch out a bit. We're also playing a LOT of new songs! We've been building up a stock of songs we haven't played yet, and we're dying for folks to hear them! We've got some dark and intense grungy stuff, a bluesy soul number ("Hoarse angel"), a super-funky tune ("Screwed you"), and several parts of a rock opera about a quantum band who only exists when enough people are watching them.

We're also working on covers, which is new for us: "I Feel Fine" by The Beatles, "99 Luftballons" by Nena, "Elephant Stone" and "Waterfall" by The Stone Roses, and some others. I'd love to do "Johnny B Goode", but we haven't worked on that one as much! We're going to add some more Beatles as well, because they're such a huge influence on us.

And the biggest news is that we've got some better opportunities to play those songs! We opened for bluesqueezebox in November and they asked us to play with them again on December 18, which is great. Even greater is that we've got a headlining gig at the same club on December 27! And I just got a text message from my bandmate saying that our friend we tapped to headline for us has confirmed that she's in!

So now we've got our longest set yet, from 10pm to midnight. It's going to take basically ALL the songs we know well enough to play to fill out that slot, and it's gonna be awesome. We've got a number of songs on the keyboard as well, so we can mix up the night and give the keyboard songs a chance to shine too.

This is super-exciting! We've been extremely focused and as a result, a lot of great stuff is happening in a shorter time than we thought possible. Now our next big result is to audition and find a drummer and a bass player--there are two more squad members of the World Racketeering Squad out there who just don't know it yet!

Isaac

Isaac Priestley: World Racketeering Squad
http://www.progressions.org/
http://www.youtube.com/worldracketeer

 
Posted : 02/12/2007 6:43 am
(@rparker)
Posts: 5480
Illustrious Member
 

Wow Isaac, it appears that things are starting to roll quickly. Very happy for you and the start of the band. Keep us posted.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin

 
Posted : 02/12/2007 6:57 am
(@progressions)
Posts: 320
Reputable Member
Topic starter
 

We wrote a groovy new song last night, and already have plans to add it to our set.

We've also decided that we're feeling weird about looking for a drummer and bassist this month--both our schedules are funky, which means we'll be spending a lot of our free time practicing for the two upcoming gigs on Dec 18 and Dec 27, and we don't want to take time away from rehearsing to audition drummers or bassists. Plus we kinda feel like we're not ready yet to have one, or it wouldn't seem like we're forcing ourselves to look for a rhythm section.

In the meantime, we've decided to experiment with making simple backing tracks and playing them on an iPod. We're going to do one of our two sets at the Carousel Lounge on the 27th with backing tracks. A few songs we've done recordings of, and we can adapt the backing tracks from that, and others I'll be making tracks from scratch. I'll be making at least drum tracks, and possibly some bass tracks as well. I don't want it to get too complicated, but we really want to have some drum rhythm going on in our songs, at the very least.

At least two of my favorite bands, Ween and They Might Be Giants, played with backing tapes for quite a while before making the leap to a full live band. Plus I feel like getting more experience creating backings for our songs would give us a little more flexibility--we love hip-hop and dance music, but we've been focusing on guitar rock because we can do that live. I'd like to get to try out a broader range of sounds.

We'll see how it goes! I'm going to start testing out the backing track and find the right adapter for my iPod so we can plug it in and see how it feels.

Isaac

Isaac Priestley: World Racketeering Squad
http://www.progressions.org/
http://www.youtube.com/worldracketeer

 
Posted : 05/12/2007 4:35 pm
 cnev
(@cnev)
Posts: 4459
Famed Member
 

Isaac,

Nice tune, reminds me of Hall and Oates.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!

 
Posted : 06/12/2007 1:41 pm
(@progressions)
Posts: 320
Reputable Member
Topic starter
 

Isaac,

Nice tune, reminds me of Hall and Oates.

Thanks cnev!

Isaac Priestley: World Racketeering Squad
http://www.progressions.org/
http://www.youtube.com/worldracketeer

 
Posted : 06/12/2007 3:19 pm
(@kent_eh)
Posts: 1882
Noble Member
 

Thanks, Wes!

I didn't think too much of the wig at the time but my friend is working on an illustration that makes me want to start wearing it fulltime!

Jeff

That drawing looks like something from a Parliment-Funkadelic album cover. :lol:
Fits right in with the effect ya got goin' on "screw you" (auto-wah? )

I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep

 
Posted : 08/12/2007 5:13 am
(@progressions)
Posts: 320
Reputable Member
Topic starter
 

Thanks, Wes!

I didn't think too much of the wig at the time but my friend is working on an illustration that makes me want to start wearing it fulltime!

Jeff

That drawing looks like something from a Parliment-Funkadelic album cover. :lol:
Fits right in with the effect ya got goin' on "screw you" (auto-wah? )
Heh, it totally does! On "Screwed you" it's a regular wah-wah pedal, although in my latest arrangement I'm playing it without the wah, just a funky syncopated strum. Made a backing track for it yesterday and I can't wait to play it in public, with the drums and the bass going!

Isaac Priestley: World Racketeering Squad
http://www.progressions.org/
http://www.youtube.com/worldracketeer

 
Posted : 08/12/2007 5:25 am
(@progressions)
Posts: 320
Reputable Member
Topic starter
 

Some more updates. World Racketeering Squad officially has T-shirts now! I made the logo and the shirts are available for sale on Zazzle. Soon there will be legions of fans parading our merchandise around the world!

We'd scheduled to play at Conan's Pizza open mic on Monday night, and Monday evening my bandmate Reed called me up and said he was feeling sick and wasn't up for playing. I wasn't quite convinced and challenged him a little on whether he was really too sick to play, and it turns out he was feeling much better than he had been earlier. He came over and we went to Conan's and played, and had a great show. As usual with our shows, we recorded video and it'll be up on YouTube soon. I'll update here with the link to the set.

We had spent November focusing on one single set list, with little variation, to really tighten up those specific songs and get them down. Now that December's over, we're opening up our set and playing a lot of new material and some covers too. We hadn't played with the acoustic guitar in ages, so we took the acoustic to Conan's and played a full set of 5 songs we'd never done there before. One thing I hadn't reckoned with, I'd been playing electric so much that it had also been ages since I'd played acoustic guitar at all! I was a little rusty on these songs, but they're new so it's a bit to be expected. The show itself was pretty fun, and watching the video, it seems a lot better than it felt at the time--when we're playing we're so focused on every little thing that it seems to heighten all the mistakes and slip-ups, flubbed lyrics, &c.

That was fun, and I was really proud of Reed for stepping up and doing the show despite feeling poorly. We had band practice today, and again it went well, except that I'm just ready to be a lot better on guitar than I am. I've been playing for 20 years and my rhythm is still sloppy, and my capacity for lead playing is extremely limited.

We're a two-man band right now, and to fill out our sound we've decided to start playing with backing tapes, so I've been working a lot on those in the last couple of weeks. They're just drums and bass (in some cases only drums), but having that rhythm element makes me feel so much better, because I don't have to carry it all on the guitar. It lets me be a lot more flexible on the rhythm and gives me the opportunity to play some lead parts as well, which I've been dying to do. As I said my lead playing is really challenging me right now, but I don't how to get better except to do it, so I'm doing it.

My bandmate Reed seems pretty overwhelmed by the backing tapes, too, which is a challenge for both of us. I put a lot of work into them, and we both agreed to do it, but he's intimidated by not being as familiar with them, by not being able to improvise in case anything happens, or whatever. We talked about it and I want to find ways to make him more comfortable with them. I feel like it just needs practice, to get used to the parts and where they happen in the song, just like it does without a pre-recorded backing. I just want him to be as excited about them as I am.

I've rambled a lot, but there you go! Enjoy. :)
Isaac

Isaac Priestley: World Racketeering Squad
http://www.progressions.org/
http://www.youtube.com/worldracketeer

 
Posted : 12/12/2007 4:32 am
(@rparker)
Posts: 5480
Illustrious Member
 

Glad you had a good gig. I enjoy a two piece lineup. There's something about it. I dunno. Maybe it's because you can't cover any songs exactly that had bass, drums, etc, in them. It's always seemed more rootsy or laid back. Maybe more personal?

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin

 
Posted : 12/12/2007 4:48 am
(@progressions)
Posts: 320
Reputable Member
Topic starter
 

Glad you had a good gig. I enjoy a two piece lineup. There's something about it. I dunno. Maybe it's because you can't cover any songs exactly that had bass, drums, etc, in them. It's always seemed more rootsy or laid back. Maybe more personal?

It does feel more intimate than a full band, especially for the small venues we've been playing in. You *can* cover songs written for full bands, you just need to change the arrangement a little. For us, most of our songs work really well as a two-piece even without drums, but many of them feel like they work so much better with a driving rhythm section.

Isaac Priestley: World Racketeering Squad
http://www.progressions.org/
http://www.youtube.com/worldracketeer

 
Posted : 12/12/2007 5:13 am
 cnev
(@cnev)
Posts: 4459
Famed Member
 

Isaac,

Remember to stay away from the funk though! HA

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!

 
Posted : 12/12/2007 1:20 pm
(@progressions)
Posts: 320
Reputable Member
Topic starter
 

LOL cnev. Impossible! Like John Lee Hooker says, "It's in him, and it's gotta come out!"

Isaac Priestley: World Racketeering Squad
http://www.progressions.org/
http://www.youtube.com/worldracketeer

 
Posted : 12/12/2007 2:22 pm
 cnev
(@cnev)
Posts: 4459
Famed Member
 

Ok if you have to go for it. On a more serious note, I'm with your partner on the backing track thing. Not just beacuse what happens if something goes wrong, which would be tough but, in general and this is a personal opinion, the use of backing tracks is kinda lame. To me it reeks of some lame lounge player. I've seen a few and there's just something missing.

If I were you I'd either get a bass player and a drummer or else just do solo acoustic. Maybe you can just get someone to play congos or something like that just to get a little drum rhythm going.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!

 
Posted : 12/12/2007 3:15 pm
(@progressions)
Posts: 320
Reputable Member
Topic starter
 

We'd definitely like to move from backing tracks to a full band at some point, but two of my favorite bands, They Might Be Giants and Ween, are basically two-piece bands who played with backing tracks for years. TMBG didn't have a full band until their fourth album, basically the same for Ween.

It's not the most ideal situation, but I really need to have more flexibility in what and how I play, and something needs to be holding down the rhythm. We're a pretty eclectic group so I anticipate finding a bassist (much less a drummer) who's in tune with us to be a challenge we're going to take on sometime soon, but not right now.

Isaac Priestley: World Racketeering Squad
http://www.progressions.org/
http://www.youtube.com/worldracketeer

 
Posted : 12/12/2007 3:22 pm
(@progressions)
Posts: 320
Reputable Member
Topic starter
 

So we've had two big gigs now using the backing tracks--one a support slot a week ago, and the second a full headlining show, last night. It's definitely true that every mistake is an opportunity to learn something, and we keep finding new things to learn! :)

Using the backing tracks was a little tricky getting started. It's tough to do without a stage monitor, it's just tough to hear the drums and anything on the track. Last week we played with a few tracks without a monitor, but we figured out that my little Kustom guitar amp could make a workable monitor in a pinch, so that's what we did last night.

Here's one of the videos, a funk song called "Screwed You". I lost my guitar sound at one point and it seemed to take me forever to figure out that I'd kicked one of the pedal patch cables out! Since then I made a pedal board so all my stompboxes are locked in place now.

We're still learning loads about how to arrange and perform our songs, some of them haven't quite settled into a good arrangement yet, but I'm getting more flexible on guitar. My rhythm isn't that much better, but at least when I have drums I can keep up pretty well! I'm also starting to get to play more lead lately, which is super fun for me.

Here's the playlist of the whole show on video:
World Racketeering Squad, Carousel Lounge, 12/18/07. The show was a 45-minute opening slot, which we've done before, but adding the backing tracks and some new songs really seemed to mix it up and it felt very new. We had a few serious technical challenges but overall the energy was great and it was a good show.

I get to solo a bit on "Hoarse Angel". It's getting a little better each time I play it.

We'll have last night's show uploaded very soon. It went even better! It was our first headlining gig, we played for about an hour and a half. I played the first few songs of the first set on acoustic guitar, then finished the set on electric. Then played a few songs on keyboard and finished the second set on guitar again. We had a really enthusiastic crowd, with some old friends of mine in town for the holiday, and that helped a lot.

We realized that in December we felt like we were over-reaching our grasp, because preparing a 90-minute show was a lot different than doing a 45-minute set, with some added complications including the need to bring our own microphones, mic stands, etc. We were getting pretty stressed, especially combined with the holidays taking up a bunch of time that wasn't available to practice or play.

Anyway, now after doing the show I'm not so sure we were over-reaching at all. I'm a lot more interested in doing more 90-minute sets than the shorter shows, and I feel a lot more confident about our prospects of having enough material that's in good enough shape to play.

We'll see how it goes. We've got a one-hour set scheduled in February at a bar where we play open mics, and we're going to be looking for more opportunities and to find some other places to play in January.

We've gotten a lot accomplished in December--I've come a lot closer to the guitar sound I'm looking for with my new amplifier (AD30VT) and my pedals and pedalboard. We've played our biggest gig yet, we've introduced backing tracks and worked out the kinks of using them. We've also learned a lot about our own needs as a band in terms of how much practice we need, and in what we need to do to prepare for a gig to ensure that we have a great time and learn a lot from it, regardless of what other factors exist. When we play a show, we define "success" as getting up on stage and rocking the house, no matter who's there or how they respond, or whatever technical issues arise. That keeps us excited and enthusiastic about playing, no matter what.

Isaac Priestley: World Racketeering Squad
http://www.progressions.org/
http://www.youtube.com/worldracketeer

 
Posted : 29/12/2007 6:50 am
Page 2 / 3