Archive for May, 2009

Mini Blog: Songwriting Sessions

First songwriting session at Brendan’s apartment …

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Band! Band! Band!

Photo Montage © 2009 Stan Syckes

This entry really was supposed to be written last Friday to coincide with my silly (and completely ignored) Friday Catchup category. I still haven’t given up on it, yet (the category, that is). Let’s give it a little space in the sun and see if it grows into anything interesting.

… And now back to the rock!


Rock: A Blog Thrillogy

Part 1: In Which Our Hero Describes The Detection of a Musical Compatriot of Equal Greatness
you are here » Part 2: In Which Our Hero Forms the Nucleus of a Musical Juggernaut
Part 3: In Which Our Hero is Reunited with his Mighty Excalibur
Part 4: In Which The Ship Be Sinking

Well, John (drummer), Brendan (singer/guitarist), and I met again for our second rehearsal on the 12th and … well, it was some jam! First off, the organization to the whole thing was very different than my other band experiences. I was a co-leader in my first band back in high school (“The Fuzzy Dice Club”), butting heads with the lead “singer” quite often until I finally quit. In my college band, Bras, I felt more of a time manager, trying to make sure we were always getting something done or sticking to the schedule. I hated this role and I’m sure I rubbed my band mates the wrong way on more than one occasion. In my most recent group (never named!) we were all controlled by the lead singer’s micromanaging iron fist until we eventually rebelled.

So it was a bit refreshing and … dare I say it scary (!!!) when this jam was run by whoever had the next idea! I’ll spare you the order and frequency of what we worked on (mostly because it’s been almost two weeks since and I can’t remember), but here’s where we are currently (in order of most to least finished):

  • “Last Man Standing” (tentative title)
    We ran through this hard rocker a couple of times and a really starting to imprint our “sound” onto it. However, Brendan is still having trouble coming up with melodies and lyrics on the fly that he really likes. So, this weekend I put together a demo for him to go to town on. Anyway, John’s got most, if not all, of his drum fills down. He’s very bombastic throughout the whole thing and I hope he will choose his favorite fills and use them at the perfect moments, rather than every time we hit certain spots. Gotta leave them wanting more, you know? I’ve been playing rhythm for 90% of the song when we rehearse so Brendan can focus on the vocals, so I have very little lead work settled. However, during my demo-making process this weekend I did come up with a cool scratch solo and something to do going into the choruses. Should be hot!
    NEEDS: melody, lyrics, finished leads, bass, final polishing up of song

  • Brendan’s “Southern Rock” song (no title, yet)
    Brendan brought this one to the table during our rehearsal and John and I immediately jumped on it. It’s got a great “Sweet Home Alabama” feel to it, except without all the bloat and pretentiousness. We only ran through it a couple of times to show us the basic structure of the songs so there’s still a lot to do on our ends, but Brendan has most of the melody and lyrics finalized. Should be an interesting piece to go after any of mine because 1) it’s certainly not something I’d write and 2) yet, it’s a greatly written tune.
    NEEDS: finalized lyrics, leads, finished drums, bass, arrangement and final polishing of song

  • “Love in Doses” (semi-tentative title)
    This one was a blues experiment of mine that I started back in March of 2004. I pulled it out to show the singer of my last band and he liked it but it took him a million listens to get there. Here, I was just jamming on it while Brendan and John were getting their equipment set up and Brendan immediately wanted to go to work on it. It’s only a verse and chorus right now and I tried my best to show Brendan the lyrics/melody I had but my limited control of my voice didn’t do a great job. Lots of work is left on this one but it would complete an eclectic (but good) lineup of a hard rocker, Southern rock-pop, and blues rock.
    NEEDS: finished lyrics, bridge, solo, finished drums, bass, arrangement and final polishing of song

Anyway, by the end of the rehearsal (just our second) we all were really pleased and impressed with what we had going on. Brendan said he knew of a possible bassist we could audition, but we all agreed to get about 5 or 6 songs down solid first. Then we could record ourselves playing these and shoot them out into the Craigslist netherworld.

Yes, people, there are even more updates a-coming (as can plainly be seen in the table of contents portion of this post) … but you’ll just have to wait until I get around to writing about them all!

Current Mood: Makin’ Music emoticon Makin’ Music

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Mini Blog: Stern Sighting?

I could’ve sworn I walked past Howard Stern today … but it was at 10:30 in the morning and he’s still doing his show then. I’ll listen to the rerun and find out for sure.

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  • Tuesday, May 19th, 2009 at 17:54 | #1

    Definitely not him as he did a full show today but, damn, that guy looked exactly like Stern!

  • Thursday, May 21st, 2009 at 11:51 | #2

    Could it have been Ralph?

  • Thursday, May 21st, 2009 at 12:15 | #3

    I doubt it. The guy had long black hair like Howard, not short whatever it is that Ralph has on his head. And I didn’t see a berry!

Threesome!

Well, shit, there have been a lot of updates since the last time I blogged about my musical exploits, but things have become a little hectic around here and my own wireless router was blocking me from stanus.butt, so I haven’t had a real opportunity to spill it. Oh yeah, and the CEO of SteverOnline, Inc. was riding my ass about finishing the Phila-doh-phia Trilogy. Well, they’re completed, I bought a new router, and I’m ready to update you. Strap in, because the ride to ultimate rock begins now!


Rock: A Blog Thrillogy

you are here » Part 1: In Which Our Hero Describes The Detection of a Musical Compatriot of Equal Greatness
Part 2: In Which Our Hero Forms the Nucleus of a Musical Juggernaut
Part 3: In Which Our Hero is Reunited with his Mighty Excalibur
Part 4: In Which The Ship Be Sinking

So John (drummer from old band) and I had jammed twice and really liked what we heard. We had a great, straight rock foundation and our laid back personalities really meshed well in and out of the studio. We felt the most productive plan to conquering the world would be to continue jamming together while also looking for the perfect singer/songwriter (it was more important to form this core and find a bassist later). Now, I don’t really believe there’s a perfect anything out there, but this singer/songwriter would have to satisfy a few basic conditions:

  • Competent singer
  • OPTIONAL: Competent instrumentalist (if they played one)
  • Laid back
  • Voice fits well with our playing
  • OPTIONAL: Playing fits well with our playing (if they played an instrument)
  • Songwriting ability comparable to mine and someone who I can co-write with … if not effortlessly, than at least smoothly
  • Enjoys the finer things in life such as beer and video games
  • Not an asshole
  • Not super young (> 25)
  • Not super old (< 32)

Well, it took about four separate craigslist ads, but about three weeks ago it seemed like we finally had a winner. A guy named Brendan responded saying that he was a singer/guitarist/songwriter who was in a New York band from 2005 to 2008 and had taken a bit of a hiatus afterward. It wasn’t until recently that he started to realize he needed to play music again and liked what he heard on my MySpace page. He also attached a few songs from his old band in his response and my immediate reactions included the following (I guess it’s just going to be one of those list blogs, people):

  • He possessed the best, most professional sounding voice I had come across during my craigslist trolling. However, he was also a baritone – something I hadn’t experienced playing with since my very first band (and whenever I reference that band I use the term “playing” in the absolute loosest sense).
  • I dug a lot of his music. It was a little lighter than what John and I had been working on, but I could foresee great potential in the merging of the two.

So, naturally, I was pretty amped to respond to his reply and set up a jam date. After a few emails back-and-forth between the three of us, we settled on a Wednesday afternoon jam at UltraSound, just around the corner from Madison Square Garden. I had a little bit of trouble finding the actual room we were to play in, but I finally met up with Brendan in Studio J at around 6:15 PM. I was a little nervous, as always, but knew I had a lot of time to get comfortable since John was going to be slightly late coming in from New Jersey. We talked about past band experiences, guitar and gear, and the usual bullshit. Finally, we tried jamming on one of the songs he had sent along. He admitted that he hadn’t played it in a really long time and I quickly discovered that I really hadn’t prepared it at all. I’m surprised at how bad it sounded, actually. But we laughed it off and moved on.

He asked to hear the latest song I had been working on with John – a faster rocker with a slight “Clint Eastwood” feel that has been tentatively titled “Last Man Standing.” He instantly liked it and we got about halfway through it when John finally showed up and did his usual drummer strip tease (jumping out of his work clothes and into drumming shorts)! John needed a warm up so we ran through two pre-selected Stone Temple Pilots cover songs, “Crackerman” and “Unglued.” I’m not sure how we settled on those, but they were hoooorrrrible. It seemed like everything – from the late arrivals, to the bad covers – was turning out really sloppy. I wondered where this whole mess would end up.

We decided to pick up “Last Man Standing” again and … something had changed. Whereas John and I had never played either of the STP songs together, we had rehearsed the shit out of “Last Man” and this professionalism finally knocked some sense into all of us. We played through the song several times, each time Brendan adding more and more to a vocal and second guitar line. Unfortunately, time went by super fast and we found ourselves being kicked out. I got the feeling all of us were interested in another jam but I wanted to see how we could hang outside of the studio so I suggested grabbing a beer or three. Brendan and John were in and we stumbled into a nearby bar called “Mustang Mary.”

The clientele was the typical workaholics just out of the office – dressed niceley and drinking heavily – and here we were: three guys dressed to jam and lugging around 60 pounds of musical equipment. But, we strolled up to the bar and decided to have ourselves a good time. It was great getting to know Brendan – a really interesting guy – and there was a unanimous call for a second jam. I’ll admit I got a little too tipsy so who knows what else I agreed to, but we all decided that Jam 2.0 would occur next Tuesday!

Current Mood: All Good emoticon All Good

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Comments:
  • Tuesday, May 19th, 2009 at 09:30 | #1

    when’s part 2?

  • Tuesday, May 19th, 2009 at 17:58 | #2

    Ever the taskmaster! Bide thy time …

  • Zepmoon
    Wednesday, May 20th, 2009 at 14:21 | #3

    Question and comment:

    Question first: Your analogy “…rocker with a slight Clint Eastwood feel…” confuses me, what exactly does Clint Eastwood feel like and how do you know?

    Comment: I’m betting your definition of “Super Old” changes with each passing year and decade. I remember when I thought guys who had their driver’s license were old!

  • Friday, May 22nd, 2009 at 09:35 | #4

    “Clint Eastwood” is a song by the band The Gorillaz

  • Friday, May 22nd, 2009 at 09:39 | #5

    Yeah … I guess this is a case where I should have been more specific instead of descriptive. I’m actually not referring to the Gorillaz song, “Clint Eastwood.” I just meant the feel of the song is rock + Clint Eastwood Western movie soundtrack.

Bad Fantasy

I still have a backlog of posts I’d like to get out but unfortunately I’ve been experiencing some stanus.butt difficulties while at home. It’s forced me to be a little slower at posting than I’d like but I promise to get all of these goodies out.


Holy shit, I sucked at all of my fantasy sports. I’ve done fairly well in all of my online sporting ventures in the past but this year was quite a wake up call. I’m going to be a man and admit it here … I’m also going to be lazy by putting up a table and calling it a blog.

Sport League Name Team Name Draft Order Result
Baseball PPC Fantasy Baseball 2.0 NY Homeless #3 9 of 10
Football DSPC Fantasy Football Daily Stain #8 8 of 8
Football Belichick’s Boobies Favre’s Silver Pubes #10 5 of 14
March Madness Marsteller Office Pool Bracket #1 N/A Tie-34 of 143
March Madness Marsteller Office Pool Bracket #2 N.A 66 of 143
Basketball Kobe Is A Nutter Dirk&KiddAreLovers!! #2 7 of 14
Basketball Jason Kidd’s Head Wrinkles NBASim #1 6 of 12

I actually did win a March Madness bet ‘tween just Cassie and I, but even this didn’t buoy my overall outcome by much.

Current Mood: Ready For The Weekend emoticon Ready For The Weekend

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Mini Blog: Mavs Eliminated

My Mavs season is over. But, I have to admit, it feels a hell of a lot better losing in the second round to a better team than in the first round to a worse one. Cou(last two seasons)gh!!!

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  • Friday, May 15th, 2009 at 14:59 | #1

    it’s interesting that while your Mav’s season is over, mine is just beginning!

TWITTER: Candace Bushnell

Saw Candace Buschnell doing a tv spot on my commute. She said she wrote “Sex and the City” just a few blocks from where I live. Coincidence?

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Philly Part III: Give Me Death or Give Me Doh!

Photos © 2009 Brandon Jones, Montage © 2009 Stan Syckes

NOTE: For some weird reason I can’t access [stanus.nut] from inside my apartment. I have no clue why my network is blocking it … so I’ve become a little backlogged in stanus activities that I’ve wanted to do here. However, I shall forge onward for you, dear reader! First, the end to our exciting Philladelphia mini-series!

Part 1: Death Aboard a Megabus
Part 2: Brandon Jones Travels Through Time


I don’t know what exactly it was – a horrifying nightmare, the cold Philly morning air rushing against my bare buttocks (!?), or the angst of finally having to meet and greet Toine in relationship mode – but something awoke me with such a start that cool Sunday morn; jumping straight out of bed and into a defensive position! It was my final day in Philladelphia and it was time for the final, ultimate challenge of the entire trip. For this day Toine and new girlfriend, Joy, were to arrive. The only preparations to such an anticipated event was a sternly whispered demand by El Toine, himself, to “be ready at 10 AM” for their entrance. No clear-headed rebuttals regarding hangovers and lack of sleep could penetrate the man’s brain. He had decided the day was beginning at 10 in the AM and that was final!

Well, I woke up with a bit of a tickle in my throat (I just wanted to finally use that silly phrase) so I went about trying to drink a lot of water and get my body healed enough for TOINE: THE ENTRANCE. Meanwhile, Cassie and the Joneses slowly rose from their slumber and began to make their own arrangements for the day. Katie showered. Cassie picked out her clothes. And Brandon sat, cross-legged (!!), near the window facing out into the streets the prized couple would be using. Like some hideous paparazzi-bird combination, he perched at his sniping spot with giant camera at the ready … ready and waiting for his prey to come into view! As soon as he got a Toine call saying they had arrived he began snapping furiously! As the two lovers approached the house in complete hand-holding bliss, they were completely unaware of the sheer savagery of scrutiny they were being bombarded with by Jones’ never-blinking eye.

Somehow escaping unscathed from this brutal photographic attack, The Stetses completed an even more herculean task by making it up all four (!!!) flights of stairs that led into Jones Manor; culminating with their grand entrance into all of our hearts. At first, I was stunned to see Anthony in full relationship mode – constantly holding Joy’s hand, caressing her, or using the word “we” when discussing future plans. This was a man I’ve known who would not let any type of setting, circumstance or social norm prevent him from making a loudly-spoken homosexual quip and now he was dressed nicely and comforting a female companion! But, to be honest, the weirdness of this change dissipated just as quickly as the newness off seeing Toine in a relationship did. The rest of us, not used to waking up on a Sunday morning before 10 AM, took turns getting ourselves decent for public viewing and meeting Joy, who turns out to be a really nice, funny and down-to-earth person. With everyone introduced and smelling nice, we were on our merry way!

Toine and Joy had a busy schedule that they wished to stick to. First we hit up the famous Liberty Bell … the historic monument that I’m convinced contains the highest bullshit:interesting information ratio surrounding it. My god, you had to walk down a super long hallway filled with plaques, videos, and other antiquities just to see the damn bell! Were you aware that President John F. Kennedy saw the Liberty Bell and stopped for a photo shoot? Here’s 500 words to describe that momentous occasion to you!!!!

With the bell done, our caravan made its way to the next item on the Stets’ List: Independence Hall. Unfortunately, you had to have tickets to get in and the nearest open tour wasn’t for another 2 hours. So, we reluctantly retraced our steps passed the Liberty Bell to grab the tickets. With so much time to kill we also stopped and perused the gift shop for a while where fascinating objects such as “Fart Proudly” were discovered (and luckily left not purchased). Then my stomach sounded a rallying call: I was to eat soon or else!

Fortunately, another item on The Stets List was to eat a Philly cheese steak sandwich from “one of the top 5 in the city.” About a mile from the Liberty Bell area, we found a cool little street of interesting restaurants on either side. There was one dedicated to famous Philadelphian, Larry Fine, and several dedicated to women’s breasts (I’m not kidding), but we finally decided upon Steaks on South – a typical Philly fast food restaurant. I got the pizza cheesesteak (sans onions!) which was fantastic and they even threw in free fries after we showed our Phillies game ticket stubs. Most of the meal was spent getting to know Joy a little better – specifically by finding out what she knew about our Toine!

From lunch we moved back towards Independence Hall where we were allowed past the gates now that we possessed the tickets of freedom! Inside, I was immediately greeted with two unnerving facts. First, we brought down the average age of the other members of the 3:15 PM tour group a good 40 years. And secondly, I had to urinate so badly and knew there was no hope for blessed release until after the tour. I braced myself and entered the hallowed halls of freedom with Doh at my side!

I’m not sure who came up with the idea but so many tours begin with a pre-tour. Well, the one at Independence Hall was no different as we were “treated” with a 15 minute introduction and light joke fair from our 60-year old tour guide. There was absolutely nothing of note during this monologue – it was obviously just vamping to get the tour ahead of us out of the room – with one lone exception: oh yeah, that’s right. Anthony fell asleep within those 15 minutes!!!! Brandon snapped a few candid shots on Cassie’s camera for proof! I think the last time I’ve had to try to stop laughing so hard was back in high school band. It was glorious! Ladies and gents, the man just does not disappoint!

I was actually quite impressed and awed by the two rooms we saw during the tour, but I won’t bore you with any of those details. We’re here for Toine, people! Principal Photographer Jones took a few more candid Doh-shots of the new couple cuddling while learning about how our nation’s forefathers attempted to piece this war-battered country together into the great nation we all love. Then Toine pointed out how we shouldn’t be leaning on the railings that stopped us from physically entering the rooms as the nails were “probably really old.”

By this time I was pretty Phillied-out, to tell you the bitter truth, but Toine and Joy, still vigorous and full of energy in the honeymoon of their courtship wanted to go check out the Philadelphia Museum of Art – whose famed steps Rocky Balboa climbed to the top of and raised his fists in victory. It took us two taxis to get over there, but Toine and I recreated that famous jog step-by-step and ejaculated in a similar fashion atop the famed steps. Heh. Then, with one final ounce of energy, we all took pictures in front of the Rocky statue at the bottom of the steps. Toine did the Rocky pose while Cassie and I elected to give the Italian Stallion the ol’ rusty trombone.

Philly was done. And so am I with this blog. A super-quick recap of what else happened: we walked back to Brandon’s place, talked for a second or two, and then Cassie and I had another terrible experience with Megabus. But not even this final setback could prevent us from feeling privileged to have met and hung out with Toine’s new ladylove, Joy. It was a whirlwind of a weekend, but a satisfying experience in the end.

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  • Monday, May 11th, 2009 at 17:18 | #1

    Great blog. But it begs the question: Who’s Toine?

  • Monday, May 11th, 2009 at 19:18 | #2

    I believe Toine said we shouldn’t lean on the railing because the paint was really old and probably had lead in it. I guess he thought the paint was original… not sure what he thought of the building’s central air conditioning that must have been quite advanced in the 1750s!

  • Richard
    Friday, May 15th, 2009 at 03:48 | #3

    Who’s Toine? Who’s You??

Mini Blog: First Tab

Had my first can of Tab last night. Not bad at all … though what’s the difference between it and Coke Zero?

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TWITTER: David Cross

On my way to lunch saw David Cross doing a photo shoot. Pretty awesome …

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