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Severe Bass » Severe Musick

RIP Oderus Urungus
March 29th, 2014

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a big GWAR fan. They were one of the first musical groups I got into when in Jr High (which deeply concerned my parents for several years, until they trusted I was not going to become a serial killer), and one of my first concert experiences. I remember talking my parents into letting me see GWAR and the Misfits at the 930 Club on a weeknight (my first ever weeknight show) and coming into school the next day with my skin still stained red. A few years later I saw them at the 930 Club again and this time went into work the next day with blue-tinged fingers. I told everyone I had been a zombie at a Halloween party the night before.

I’ve seen GWAR live more times than I can count (I estimate it is in the 10 – 13 times range) in DC, Baltimore, Worcester, and San Francisco. While at school in Boston, I won free GWAR tickets to a Palladium show for submitting a gross haiku, then ended up trading the extra ticket for a ride to/from Worcester. We got lost as hell on the way back, but no one seemed to care. My haiku, if you are interested, was:

Mutilate friends, then
Hack into tiny pieces
To be thrown at cars

I was pretty proud of it.

The last time I saw GWAR it was at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco during the tour after Cory Smoot’s tragic overnight death. My girlfriend bought me the tickets for my birthday present, and after the show I remarked on how old I had become. I didn’t get a single drop of fake blood on me the entire show! But I still really enjoyed myself, sang along with half the songs, and then got a little weepy-eyed when they played one of my favorite tunes “The Road Behind” at the very end as a tribute to Cory Smoot. That was a really fun night.

I feel like a lot of the artists I most respect are leaving this realm recently, many of them entirely too soon. But the news of Dave Brockie’s death hit me so hard it even surprised me. I found myself getting distracted easily at work, and having more tendency than usual to make an inappropriate/gross joke completely out of the blue. I guess that was my own way of paying homage to someone who was such a formative influence on me.

Later that night I spent some time trying to figure out if I could pull off a Severe Bass cover of “Road Behind”, something I haven’t attempted in a while. I wouldn’t say it came easy, but I was committed to making sure that it was not a half-baked arrangement, and played through it several times. On Friday evening I set things up for the first time in a while to do a video and audio recording, did an unpracticed take of the song, and then some minor editing to the source audio.

It’s not a perfect performance, or recording, but I am pretty happy that I was able to take the concept and turn it into a final product in such short time.

One other GWAR memory I will share is from the best show of theirs I ever saw. I can’t remember which time it was, but the band played FOREVER, eventually shedding their costumes and parading around in jock straps and makeup. Near the end, Dave went backstage and came out with a tray of sandwiches and proceeded to pass them out to the audience, telling them “Don’t ever say GWAR never gave you anything”. I find this especially funny compared to one of the lines in the song “The Road Behind”, when Oderus tells us he

“Slaughtered half the crew / cuz they ate my deli tray”

Whereas Dave actually went out of his way to share his deli tray with those of us in the audience. I never met Mr. Brockie, but all reports indicate that he was a super nice, genuine, and caring individual who gave his all to his music and his friends.

As that show came to a close, Dave got closer and closer to naked, eventually stripping down completely (I remember him throwing his socks into the audience and found out two days later my friend’s roommate had been at the show and took one of the socks home – so gross). He finished the song holding the plastic tray in front of his crotch (this was an all ages show), and I remember thinking it really takes some serious balls to start the show as a space monster and finish it as a naked and slightly overweight 30-something. I thought that would be the end of it, but at the very last moment, Dave whipped the deli tray into the audience and stood before us completely naked. He stared out at the hundreds of fans and shared this secret with us:

“I’m sorry I have such a small dong.”

Then he dropped the microphone and left the stage for the last time that night.

I’m going to miss that maniacal creature. His candor, intelligence, passion, and overwhelming ability to entertain and shock are the indication of a truly talented performer.

Some people are one-in-a-million. I honestly believe Dave was not just one of a million, or billion, he was a completely unique individual and there never has been, or ever will be, anyone quite like him.

Thank you Dave Brockie, for giving yourself so selfishly to your friends, family, and fans. Our world is a better place for having hosted your spirit. You certainly made me feel like I wasn’t so strange and that there was a place for me.

Can’t you hear them calling / Like the sad whale song / All along on the Road Behind

My thoughts and prayers are with those close to Dave during this incredibly sad time.

Road Behind (Severe Bass Cover) w Effect from Severe Bass on Vimeo.

One Last Recording for the Year
November 28th, 2013

Man, 2013 has been a crazy ride!  I ended out last year feeling really really good about where my band was heading, and we kept things rocking for the first few months of the year.

Then in May, our drummer resigned (which was completely out-of-the-blue to me).  I was bummed out, but determined to keep going, even though those first few months were kind of rough.

And then, it was a Craigslist Miracle!  The only response I got to my series of ads ended up being a great fit, from a guy called Ace. That was in September.

Short story, even shorter, I am really psyched about how we are sounding and hope to bring the Bad Decisions to rawk out in front of you soon!  Ace is out of town until January, so until then, I’ll leave you with a recording we did on Monday the 25th, our cover of Sebadoh’s “Beauty of the Ride”.  Now with an extended instrumental intro!

[audio:http://severebass.com/content/beauty-11-25-2013.mp3|titles=Beauty of the Ride (Sebadoh Cover)]
(download link)

Have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season folks. Catch you in 2014

Recording with the New Guy
October 25th, 2013

So after our last Grant and Green gig (lotsa Gs!) one of my Bad Decisions decided it was time for him to move on. This came as somewhat of a shock to me, as I thought he was having a good time, but far be it from me to hold someone back from having a good time. So, so long and be happy!

Naturally I was a little bummed out about this as I was pretty happy with the way things were sounding. I checked w. Bad Decision #1 (Steve) who said he was still having a good time and was up for keeping on. So we forged forth, looking for a new skins player.

I was concerned we might never find someone (the last time Steve and I looked for a drummer it took us 7 or 8 months), but happily enough a couple buddies emerged showing an interest in holding down the rhythm for us. I kept cruising personals anyway, and the first person to write me back seemed like there was a lot of potential.

Longish story short, that was a few months ago and I’m happy to announce that Ace Crow has joined the ranks of my Bad Decisions. We were real happy with Ace as a drummer and a chill guy, and looked forward to getting some tracks done with him.

So after a mere 5 practices, we went back to ole Faithful – mics hanging from the walls of our practice space, plugged into my trusty M-Audio Fast Track Pro, leading into my laptop. We knocked out 9 tunes in a couple hours, I set to mix them in REAPER (probably the best $60 bucks I ever spent), and voila! – here are the 4 recordings I thought turned out the best:

German Girl
[audio:http://severebass.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/German-Girl.mp3|titles=German Girl]
Die in a Fire
[audio:http://severebass.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Die-in-a-Fire.mp3|titles=Die in a Fire]
Sluttering/May 4th (Jawbreaker Cover)
[audio:http://severebass.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Sluttering.mp3|titles=Sluttering/May 4th (Jawbreaker Cover)]

If you for some reason need hi quality wav files of these tunes and have $5 you can give me via paypal, please mosey on over to our bandcamp page, pony up the cash, and download in whatever format you’d like.

Or you can, you know, stream em from free here. I guess if yer real savvy you can probably figure out how to download the mp3s too, but the wav files are gonna cost you!

Now it’s time to book some gigs and bring this shit to who it’s intended for – the MASSES! (I don’t mean my friend Santos – not that kind of mass).

For gig inquiries, please hit me up at gigs@severebass.com and you best believe you’ll hear back from me quick!

A Post of Some Substance!
January 17th, 2013

I’m pretty sure that just about no one reads my blog anymore (and few did), so it’s really a way for me to keep track of certain things (which I guess it always has been). It’s funny, since I moved from blogspot to a real WordPress blog, my posts have gradually become less and less (partially b/c my options for posting have become so varied). I still think there’s value to keeping track of things, and this is certainly a time of much transition and excitement, so here are some of the substantive changes that have occurred in my life since we re-elected President Obama: (I have been involved in union negotiations for most of last year, and have been bargaining since September with a lawyer, and there are terms such as “substantive changes” that have been finding their way into my everyday life since)

1. I got a promotion! I’d rather not reveal my specific organization, but I have been working as a Program Assistant in an environmental non-profit since March of 2008. Over the years, I think I’ve gotten pretty damn good at my job, which involves explaining technology to people with various backgrounds. My particular organization has been in a lot of transition the last year and a half, and I’ve found myself taking on more responsibilities and working independently. Luckily, my new structure has given me a way to voice my concerns and frustrations, and also respects the work I do, so in mid-November I was given an in-line promotion to the position of Systems Analyst. This strikes me as somewhat amusing, since it is a pretty fancy/tech-sounding position for someone with a Bachelor’s in Music, but it’s not that far off from what I do. I mostly got this title b/c none of us could think of anything else (and am technically now part of the IT department), and I’m not complaining, just find it amusing. The promotion also came with a 10% raise, which is more than the 5% minimum our contract demands, so I’m pretty happy all around.

2. I am moving! Over three years ago, I went on an internet date (via OK Cupid). This is not that interesting on its own as I estimate I’ve been on over 2 dozen internet (first) dates, and several subsequent ones. What is interesting is I am still dating this girl and she is great, and she likes me back (Of those three things, I only hit two out of three before, and those all ended within a couple weeks or a couple months). Co-habitation has never been anything I’ve sought strictly b/c it’s what people do, but after a year or two I started to think that maybe this might work out with this particular individual. Sometime in April or May, we decided to start looking together, so we looked. And looked. And looked. Sometimes we even applied for the place, but we wouldn’t get it, so we would keep looking. In 7 months I figure we saw 30 places and probably applied for a third of them (For the record, our price range was under 2000 p/m for a one bedroom, but we were hoping to spend more like 1600, which is below market in SF, but the places do exist). It was not until 12/12/12 (which was exactly three years after our first date), that we finally got the news we’d been accepted for a place we applied for! So we’ve been moving in the last couple weeks and I can’t wait. Our new place is actually a 2 Bedroom, and we are turning the 2nd bedroom into a music room since it does not share walls with any of the neighbors. Maybe you’ll get pictures. So this is great news b/c a)I found someone awesome to live with, b)I found someplace awesome to live, and c)We don’t have to keep looking for a place! Win-win-win. Except for….

3. I am going to really miss my house and neighborhood. It’s true. I love my set up for so many reasons. First of all, it is cheap (if you want to know how cheap, my current GIANT 4-bedroom is going for a small fraction more than the new place I’m moving into, so my rent will basically double). Second off, I probably have the best backyard in San Francisco. I’ll be the first to admit that I really only took advantage of that for a single summer, but still, my backyard is awesome, and there are a bunch of things I’ve planted back there I will be leaving behind (like wormwood, aloe, oregano, and some flowers I don’t remember the name of). Third off, I live in this really cool neighborhood just barely on the outskirts of the Mission, just on the bottom of Bernal Hill (which apparently used to be a really bad neighborhood but is now upper-middle class lesbians and their children/dogs) with tons of shops, restaurants, bars, and people watching. I’m a relatively nostalgic guy, and the last couple weeks I’ve been noticing how much I’m going to miss all the little idiosyncracies of my current neighborhood. Also, we are moving two blocks down from where my girlfriend lives, which is good and bad. It’s good because I already know the new hood, but it’s bad b/c She Won and I like winning. But I’m dealing with it cuz the new place (and my girlfriend) rock. To be fair, I do like the new hood too, but I’m giving up a lot of awesome fun dive bars, a wonderful intersection of several different bus/subway lines, and the best damn mexican food in SF. The trade-off will be an Irish Bakery, lots of Asian stores/restaurants, and some really funky russian delis. So it’ll be good. But I will miss the hell out of my burrito choices. There is also no backyard, so I’m trading the best backyard in SF for an alleyway that I can keep my bike in if I want.

4. I am playing a lot of music and doing it on my terms! The last part about it being on my own terms is good and bad. It’s good cuz the music I’m making is all something I am really invested in. The two groups taking up my time are my own project, Severe Bass and the Bad Decisions, and an improv-based drum/bass/etc group called The Impassable Chasm (with the drummer of Wee the Band, which is definitely, definitely, no more). This is bad, because it means if I want gigs or practices or progress, it’s my responsibility to make it happen. Luckily, this hasn’t been TOO much work, and is usually a lot of fun. Despite having 3 gigs cancelled since November (The Bad Decisions canceled two because of conflicts and a venue canceled on the Bad Decisions b/c they’d rather have a lame DJ on a Sunday night), it looks like I have a Bad Decisions gig on 1/18 in San Jose, and a The Impassable Chasm gig on 1/30 in Oakland. So that’s fun and exciting.

So there’s a bunch of stuff changing for me. I’m hoping when the dust clears, life will be awesome and I’ll be able to re-focus some of my time and energy on new projects, or getting better at current ones. Frankly, having a girlfriend on the other side of the city does not always lead to productivity (and I tend to want to mellow more when I am home and on my own that way). So prospects seems good, despite leaving awesome mexican food, not having a backyard, and working a lot harder at the day job. That being said, I did put together a little slideshow of my time on Mission St, which is not as comprehensive as I would have liked it to be (and mostly focuses on the backyard), but I’m pretty sure it’s at least in chronological order. So I’ll leave you with that.

Holy shit it’s 2013!

Recordings from our last practice of 2012
December 22nd, 2012

I think me and my Bad Decisions have had a pretty awesome year altogether. We played some shows, fine-tuned a bunch of songs, had a lot of laughs together, and are gearing up for a killer 2013. Our last practice for 2012 was Tuesday the 18th and I brought my laptop along for old times sake. Thanks to some donated mics, they came out pretty good! It’s been a while since we did this, so we actually had a bunch of new (or improved) stuff that you may not have heard.

Let’s fix that shall we? For your listening pleasure I’ve posted some of our newer compositions or covers. They include:

    Our show opener “In Front of You”

  • [audio:http://www.severebass.com/content/sb-tbd-2012-live-frontofyousong.mp3|titles=In Front of You]
  • “Die In a Fire”, which is written for and dedicated to my friend Danny

  • [audio:http://www.severebass.com/content/sb-tbd-2012-live-dieinafire.mp3|titles=Die In a Fire]
  • our cover of Frank Zappa’s “Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?” which I am really excited about

  • [audio:http://www.severebass.com/content/sb-tbd-2012-live-ydoesithurt-2.mp3|titles=Why Does It Hurt When I Pee? (Zappa Cover)]
  • “Everybody Lies”, my version of a power ballad

  • [audio:http://www.severebass.com/content/sb-tbd-2012-live-everybodylies.mp3|titles=Everybody Lies]
  • “Sluttering (May 4th)”, our re-working of a Jawbreaker song (and the first song I ever arranged for solo bass)

  • [audio:http://www.severebass.com/content/sb-tbd-2012-live-sluttering-2.mp3|titles=Sluttering (Jawbreaker Cover)]
  • “The Misfits Medley” where we smoosh together Braineaters, Angelfuck, and One Last Caress by the inimitable Misfits

  • [audio:http://www.severebass.com/content/sb-tbd-2012-live-misfits.mp3|titles=Misfits Medley]
  • and “Fuck You Santos!”, our immensely popular song about my asshole neighbor who made my life miserable for months and who I eventually got kicked out of my house

  • [audio:http://www.severebass.com/content/sb-tbd-2012-live-fusantos.mp3|titles=Fuck You Santos!]

We have more tunes, but this is the stuff I think came out the best from that recording or is the newest and yet to be shared. I hope you enjoy, and be on the lookout for stickers, fliers, and some seriously Bad Decisions coming your way in 2013!

New stickers by Kristen Kong!

New stickers by Kristen Kong!

Gigs for the end of the Year!
October 9th, 2012

Severe Bass and the Bad Decisions are coming to a dive bar near you (if you live in the SF area) for FREE at the end of the year! I am pysched that we have lined up three shows to end 2012 on!

First up, we are playing w. our friends Resistant Me (featuring Steve Bealey on guitar) from the South Bay, and Pharoahs (A hodgepodge of friends/previous bandmates) next week at the illustrious Grant and Green! (Conveniently located at Grant & Green in SF’s North Beach). Things kick off at 9 pm, we will be 2nd of three killer bands. Come get drunk w. us!

We will RAWK

I am not a Graphic Designer

After that we are coming back to San Jose’s best dive bar, Johnny V’s for a Thursday night show on December 6th. Details are forthcoming, but I would get there at 830 and wait anxiously!

And to end the year, an afternoon outside happy hour show at Thee Parkside in San Francisco’s Dogpatch. We take the stage at 4 pm! There are drink specials all day, and we will be followed by Sean O ‘ Brien and his Dirty Hands at 5, then Communist Kayte will finish things off at 6 pm. This is in place of the October 13th show we unfortunately had to reschedule.

Come grab a beer, mosh with your friends, and sing along to “Fuck You Santos”! You know you wanna..

Severe Bass and the Bad Decisions LIVE AT KIMOS! (11/13)
November 4th, 2011

Hellz yeah, my kickass band has a show! Kimos Penthouse, in SF’s Tenderloin (1351 Polk St, map here), on Sunday, November 13th. 11 and 13 are two of my most favorite numbers, so you know this will be good!

It gets better too! Opening up for us is The Hereafter, featuring the SB&TBD official mascot, Matt on Drums! After them, it’s the first ever show by The Bettas, featuring Matt (this time on guitar) and the one and only Steve Bealey (one of the best Bad Decisions I ever made) on guitar and vocals. This just gets you set up for the Severe Bass set, which we’ve been working on for a while (and I mean, A WHILE. It’s been about a year since we rawked Irelands 32).

After that is Standing Shadows from LA, bringing a little electro dance punk into the mix, and closing out the night is The Crazies Will Destroy You. Have you ever seen so many awesomely named bands on a single bill? At Kimo’s? No, you haven’t. So you should show up.

The Hereafter kicks things off at 8 pm, and we will keep the night moving along as best we can. It’s going to be one of those things where if you miss it, you’ll hate yourself forever. That seems unnecessary. Why not just come out and have a good time w. me and my friends?

Shit will be real. I guarantee.

All Around Me….
May 2nd, 2011

[translate lang=english]Severe Bass and the Bad Decisions took another stab at live recording last weekend and I think it came out much better then the last one (and I was relatively happy with the last one). Since the vocals were the trickiest part last time around, I decided to keep the mic levels really quiet (and didn’t really sing anyway) so I could go back and fix them up without too much trouble. The band has also benefited immensely from the last few weeks of recording, so all in all I’m hoping I can at least get a couple demo-quality tunes together.

And the first one I finished is, fittingly, Ants. As I’ve mentioned before, this is the first song I’ve ever written and it still holds a special place in my heart. It’s nothing special, sort of a take on thrash metal (a la Gwar), but it continues to be a lot of fun to play.

I’m still fine-tuning the edits, but all things considered, I think it’s pretty awesome, so I really hope you enjoy.

[translate lang=Severe-slang]Severe Bass n tha Bad Decisions took anotha stab at live recordin last weekend n ah think it came out much bettah then tha last one (n ah was relatively happy with tha last one). Since tha vocals were tha trickiest part last time around, ah decided ta keep tha mic levels really quiet (n didn’t really sing anyway) so ah could gae back n fix them up without too much trouble. Tha band has also benefited immensely from tha last few weeks of recordin, so all in all ahm hopin ah ken at least git a couple demo-quality tunes togetha.

N the first one ah finished is, fittingly, Ants. As ahve mentioned before, this is tha first song ahve evah written n it still holds a special place in my heart. It’s naethang special, sort of a take on thrash metal (a la Gwar), but it continues ta be a lawt of fun ta play.

Ahm still fine-tuning tha edits, but all thangs considered, ah think it’s pretty awesome, so ah really hope you enjoy.



April 28th, 2011

So one of my heroes, Amanda Fucking Palmer recently (as in yesterday) did a really cool project in which she, (her husband) Neil Gaiman, Ben Folds (of the Five) and Damian Kulash set out to write, record, and mix 8 songs in 8 hours. They did all this in Allston too, which is kind of cool, cuz that’s where my punk band used to do it’s thing!

They ended up with 6 songs in 12, which is a nice compromise. Since the album dropped (on bandcamp for a minimum $1 donation), there’s been challenges to cover and record videos ASAP in the spirit of fast production. BTW, the $1 donation goes to the Berklee City Music Network which was set up by my alma mater as “a charity which provides kids with every opportunity to see their musical potential.”

I love a challenge, so took a second listen to the tunes and decided to try and record a cover version. This is the most barebones thing I’ve ever released to the internet, but I think it’s a good idea. I ended up choosing “One Tiny Thing” mostly because it had the most driving rhythm (and least amount of piano, which is the hardest to duplicate on the electric bass). The straightforward beat was another factor.

If I had more time on this I would certainly flesh it out (and tweak some of the vocal effects a bit more) but since this is all about doing it quick, I’m calling it FFN! (Finished For Now). If I were to go back to it, one of the first things I would do is add a little acoustic guitar to the chorus, and put some extra percussion in there. However, I took this challenge upon myself at 10:56, and it’s now 12:29 and, I should probably go to sleep since I have work in the morning.

So here you go, my version of 8in8’s “One Tiny Thing”, embarassingly under-recorded, and probably full of mistakes since I barely listened to it before publishing it. Enjoy!
[audio:http://severebass.com/content/onetinything-8in8.mp3|titles=One Tiny Thing (cover)]

I’m playing w. my software….
April 12th, 2011

So on March 6th my band (Severe Bass and the Bad Decisions) did a live recording in the practice space. It was pretty bare-bones – literally two random microphones hanging from the ceiling, plugged into my Fast Track Pro, recorded into REAPER (ie, pretty much the only way I know how to record right now). The performances were somewhat spotty, and the recording was less then awesome, but it was a good learning experience.

I’ve been playing a little bit more with the basic plugins that come with REAPER, and checking out some posts on how to mix your sound, and am slowly getting the hang of it. The biggest complaint from the recordings is that the vocals are pretty low (which ended up being b/c there was a pad on the PA channel for my leads, D’oh!), so I went back and re-did vox on one of the tunes with my brand new Shure Beta SM58. I haven’t quite figured out how to remove the vocals from the original track, but it sort of adds a nice background vocal effect (at least on this song). Or maybe I’ve just been listening to it enough that it sounds “sort of nice”.

Anyway, mixing all that together leaves me with a product I’m not entirely satisfied with, but it does give me hope for the future. Long live bare minimum recording elements (and how I wish I had all these tools 4 years ago, especially b/c they did exist then!)

So here’s a listen to my (excuse me, our) cover of Sebadoh’s “Beauty of the Ride”. All things considered, I’m quite happy with it. Plus, we’re going to do it again in a week, and we have really been practicing!

[audio:http://www.severebass.com/content/3-6-beauty-of-ride-mixed-4-11.mp3|titles=Beauty of the Ride (Sebadoh Cover)]
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