May 4 2012

The Book of Zombie

In the spring and summer of 2007 a group of wildly talented individuals from KCPQ, Q13 in Seattle, got the crazy idea to make a movie. Concepts were kicked around the lunch room, basically a bunch of guys all spewing out “what if?” and then….Eureka! A zombie film! No wait…A Mormon Zombie film! This could be interesting?! The subject started out small and simple, maybe a youtube short, or maybe something that might not ever even see the light of day. But, as the case was, we were determined to rally on a project that was our own and quickly the idea grew to something much larger than any of us had originally anticipated– a feature length film was born. How we made the film has been documented in many other places around the web, mainly on Facebook these days. While we were in production, of the many hats I wore, perhaps the most challenging and exhilerating job I had was the task of scoring of the film, creating the soundtrack. Now days creating a soundtrack can consist of many things, some films re-cycle music that already exists, others have a composer or songwriter write original music to accompany the pictures on the screen, and some combine both. In the case of The Book of Zombie, the decision was made early on to create an all original score. Awesome! Creativity, raw and pure! Years after the production had initially begun, edits were completed and the chance to start writing music that was custom tailored to the action begun. I won’t bore you with the details of it all but I basically spent the fall of 2009 and winter of 2010 in front of several computers, keyboards, a zillion instruments, and bits of paper scattered around what I call Squawking Vultures Studios. Squirreled away in solitude the process was an intense one that often required brisk walks to find further inspiration when the brain felt otherwise frozen. But, as the spring of 2010 took form, the dozens of “cues” I had written began to take shape and started to add real life to the film. Working with the directors of the film I further dialed things in, orchestrated hit points, tension points, relief and so on. Here are just a few of the cues that I wrote. Please note, given that the original files are uncompressed and that this is the internet, if you want to hear these files at their highest quality…well…you’ll have to see the film on DVD or something to that end…so it goes.
Until then, this first cue was for the opening credits to the film:
Without giving away too much about what happens in the film, this next cue was written for a scene that shows our heroes escaping danger for the first time, putting the pieces together of what exactly is happening, only to discover a hoard of zombies waiting to pull them to pieces:
This last cue was written as utter chaos is taking place, the world is devolving for our heroes as impending doom grows near. Zombies attack and our heroes fight back only to finish the scene in a loving but remorseful embrace:
Zombie Chaos
From composition to recording to mixing the whole process was completed at Squawking Vultures, truly a blast and I can’t wait to do it again, now for the right project to sign on to. Until then, guitarists just wait until you see what I’ve got in store for you, boutique guitar tube amps, designed and built by yours truly, and let me tell you, these things are sounding sweet…details to come hopefully mid to late 2012.

Apr 19 2009

A Skivereen binding

In the spring of 1997 an amazing musical bonding happened. Shane, the guitarist and musical wellspring for Pint o’ Guinness and I started hanging out more and more. We had been friends and bandmates for several years at this point; but, up until this point we had never really collaborated much outside Pint o’. Conveniently, Pint o’ was to be on hiatus for a few months while some of our other band members were studying abroad in Ireland. During that short period the two of us made an attempt at writing a few songs for the band. The more we got into the process though, we realized that the songs probably wouldn’t fit with Pint o’ Guinness–but they were too cool to just throw away. The songs were deceptively simple but melodic and layered with multiple harmonies. In many regards you might say this was our Simon and Garfunkle moment. Shane was clearly Simon and I was Garfunkle. It was also at this time where the two of us realized how closely our voices locked together,  a little erie to be honest. We managed to record two of the songs written, again for the Campus Music Network at the University of Puget Sound and you can find those two tracks listed below. We called ourselves Skivereen, which is an old world word for a person who binds leather books, seemed fitting. Since then the two of us have come together to do a few other bits and pieces here and there, but life happens. I’m not sure posting those tracks would be entirely appropriate for various reasons. Shane now plays in several amazing progressive metal bands which are definitely worth checking out. Notably Lucid Spiral and Holophrase are two of them. Onward, through the fog!

Skivereen Tracks:

Skivereen–winter days

Skivereen–Few and Far

Apr 15 2009

Along came Pint o’ Guinness

In the Spring of 1995 at the University of Puget Sound a chemical mixing of multiple musical genres transpired: 1 part punk, 1 part SKA, 1 part metal, 1 part folk, 2 parts Celtic, and a dash of bluegrass to taste. The end result was a flavor and combination that can only be described as Pint o’ Guinness, the punk rock irish carnival of mayhem and chaos. At any one time during our 5 years as a band there could be anywhere from 5 to 8 members, with instruments ranging from Tin Whistle, Banjo, Mandolin, Bodhran, Guitar, Accordian, Drums, Bass, Sax, Clarinet, Trombone, Trumpet, Fiddle…the list goes on.

Sound Life Section of the Tacoma News Tribune, March 17, 1998

Sound Life Section of the Tacoma News Tribune, March 17, 1998

Ultimately we all played several instruments and swapped places often. I was a part of this delicious mess, from the band’s early inception all the way to the bitter end. From practices held in a campus chapel basement– being kicked out by security officers, to concerts in front of hundreds of amazing fans. We were a force to be reckoned with and went nowhere quietly. By some standards we were an early version of The Pogues, or close to bands like the Dropkick Murphys. An odd brotherhood that spawned a number of other projects and bands but to this day in many regards still stands out as the musical pinnacle of success for a number of its members (but then what is success?). I could write volumes on band stories, fights, political battles, and the stuff that makes films like Spinal Tap so sad, funny and true. But this perhaps for another day, yes? As for recordings, there are many, sadly none of them ever really did justice to represent the juggernaught of sound we created live but you can imagine right?


Check these out for size yo:

Pint o’ Guinness–The Train

Pint o’ Guinness–Whiskey Watered Down

Pint o’ Guinness–Sometimes