Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Navins at the Mix, 4/25/15

Show one is under our belts.

Headed out last night, got flipped off by some chick in a minivan just for passing her on the way. Got to the club and had to circle around as the road directly in front of the Mix is under construction and all blocked off.

Loaded in and set up and realized that for the last 5 months at rehearsals, we practice in a circle, facing each other. This was the first time setting up on a stage. But after a moment of confusion, I figured it out. Years of experience, and all. Also, Corey told me where I should be.

We thought we would have a 9pm start time, but it got pushed to 9:30, which was just fine with me. It was our first show and, believe it or not, I actually had some friends come out. I was stoked! David and Gregg from the Scheme were there, as were a bunch of friends who I worked with at a Very Large Software Company.

I was able to catch up with my friends and have a great time before we jumped on stage. We didn't get a sound check, but the sound guy did tell us that his PA wasn't the best and we would have to modulate the vocals by turning down our guitars and playing quieter. So, we had to worry about that. I was also concerned with the inevitable tempo increase. It seems like at every first show, though you're not nervous, you end up playing differently anyway. Other than that, it was pretty much business as usual.

We started the set with "Judy," a song inspired by a horror movie. Or something. All these songs were written before I joined. I know the words and the music and that's about it. I felt pretty good about the tempo. I always seem to mix up notes on this song, though, and through the first verse, it was fine. But at the intro leading to the second verse, yup, there was the screw-up. I hit a D instead of an A. I noticed, but hopefully it wasn't too bad.

And, as we sang the song, it was pretty clear the vocals were quiet. They were barely audible through the monitors on stage; I was told later the FOH vocals were quiet and needed to be increased. When we brought it to the sound man's attention, he scolded us and told us to sing louder or turn down.

So we played on.

The next song was "Take It Away," which marked my debut at singing lead. We started the song, tempo felt good, got to where I sing and I was able to pull it off. I felt pretty comfortable doing it and noticed a few things:
  1. Singing background vocals, I never had to be anchored to the mic. I'd sing my bit, then back off the mic. Singing lead, I have to remember to stay by the mic between lines.
  2. By being anchored to the mic, I can move around less. However, I always try to be energetic when playing and need to remember to be visually interesting. I found myself forgetting to do so and don't ever want to be static up there.
  3. I didn't realize this until the end of the night, but I have to trust the sound guy. I have to sing and not worry about backing off the mic, things like that. The worst thing is to finish the set and have someone say that they couldn't hear you sing/play/etc. The sound guy is paid to make us sound good. I just have to sing.
Through the first two songs, there were a couple mix ups. After the show, Corey mentioned he couldn't hear anything. I didn't notice if he had a monitor or not, but I did notice he wasn't singing some of the parts he normally sings. Or maybe I just didn't hear him.

Overall, it was a nice first show. We all had flubs and screw-ups, but nothing that derailed the show. I felt like I sang pretty well, but I'm gonna pick David's brain to see what he thought. I've given him some feedback about his shows, so I'm curious about what he thought about ours.

We did have some tempo issues. I'm not sure how to address them. I've mentioned it a bunch of times in practice, and even before a few songs last night. But we still sped them up, despite me trying to lay way back to pull back the tempo. I guess there was a guy shooting video so we'll see what that shows, but we always record practice and we always speed up. So it's nothing new. But we're not fixing it, and that's driving me crazy. The guys have told me before, "It's just rock and roll." Which is true, but that doesn't give us an excuse to not be the best band we can be.

After the show, I got to hang with my pals and had such a great time talking to them. These guys are all 10-15 years younger than me, but for whatever reason, I relate to them really well. Maybe it was the battles we went through in our jobs together. But I think it's just that they're all really great people.

A few news bombs were dropped last night, but I won't go into detail here. I doubt anyone is reading, but some things just don't need to be blogged. Nevertheless, the news was all good and inspiring and full of the feelings.

Oh yeah, my friend Alexis took a sweet picture. Check it out.

My other pal, Kyle, took a bunch of pictures too. I can't wait to see them. Next show, May 23rd at Tim's Tavern somewhere up north.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Happy Birthday, Haley!

Apparently tomorrow is Haley's birthday. She is getting quite the haul, it seems. Take a look.

Not bad, if you ask me.

A few weeks ago she had a bit of a fit. We were asking her what she wanted to do for her birthday and she didn't know. She does know that money is always tight and she was being considerate of that, but, in her own sullen way, she said, "we don't have to do anything, it's not that big a deal." Which, when a tween says that, it really means, "WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING, BUT I'LL NEVER LET YOU KNOW THAT I WANT TO DO SOMETHING."

I know. I was the same way.

Anyhow, we told her if she really didn't want to do anything, she didn't have to. We want her to be able to make her decisions. Then she said she wanted to do something, but didn't know what. We went back and forth and she lost her marbles. Which led to her screaming that she wanted to turn 11, not 13.


Though we cannot stop the hands of time, Haley would love to do that. She's been doing stuff in school to put the idea of college in her mind. She took sex ed last year. Her friends are all maturing and it's just a weird place for her. She's still a skinny mini and is not ready to grow up yet. So, that's why I think she freaked out.

But since then, I think she's embraced the idea of being 13. Or, at least turning 13.

She mentioned her girlfriends have been talking about decorating her locker. And I think she's gonna have a great time at school. We have all the gifts for her tomorrow morning. And this weekend, she has something like 10 friends coming to the house for a party.

She's gotten really good at managing her time. Her classes give her a ton of homework and there's nights she's up to past 10pm finishing up. It used to be that she had to be in bed by 9 or she had a horrible time functioning. Heck, I still like her to be in bed by then, but that simply doesn't happen anymore.

Most nights, she's in bed by 10, but the cool thing is, she's starting to know what that feels like and she knows what to expect. Instead of fighting being tired, she acknowledges it and deals with it.

I guess you could say she is maturing. She still gets mad if I ask her about boys. Like really mad. Sometimes she gets mad if I make a comment about her clothes. And not mean comments, nothing like that. But she is just an awesome girl and I'm super proud of the person she is.

Haley is funny, sweet, caring, thoughtful, nice, silly, compassionate, fun, and so much more. She is so much her mother's daughter at times, it's not even funny. Almost always, that's a good thing. Every once in a while (decision making, anyone?), it can be trying.

I guess this is just a rambling post about my daughter. I am so in love with her, it's silly. She really is the best. See the video a few posts down and you'll get it. In the meantime, enjoy some pictures.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Singing and playing, playing and singing

This little band I've been playing in lately is having me sing about 4 or 5 songs. Me! I've been singing backups for years and this is the first time I've been singing lead.

We're about 5 months in now (wow! 5 months already?) and it's coming along nicely. At first I wasn't so sure. Luckily, one of my bandmates records all the rehearsals and, believe it or not, it hasn't been all bad. I thought I would hate the sound of my own voice; it's not too bad. I just have to listen as if it's not my own voice.

The trouble is, all four of us sing and I'm not sure if we can all hear each other.

There are times when it doesn't sound too bad. Then there are times when it sounds quite rough. Some are nearly in tune, some aren't. It's never perfect, but it's also a lot worse than it should be.

I saw my ex-mates' band, The Pop Cycle, a few weeks ago. It was David's first show with Brett and his mates and it went pretty well. What I really noticed, though, was how much better their vocals sounded than my band's vocals. With this new inspiration, I brought it to my bandmates' attention.

At first, the guys seemed to play it off, like, "hell, man, it's rock and roll, what do you expect?" I told them we should be better, that I didn't want to go out there and sound like crap. I didn't want people to say, "well, the band sounds pretty good, but man, they suck at singing!" I want it all to be good.

So we started practicing a little more on the vocals. It has gotten a bit better. But it's still rough. I think the guys are used to just playing and not worrying too much about vox, as they've been a "garage" band, and all.

Well, I was spoiled by the singing in the bands I've been in in the past and I'm trying to bring these guys up. They can all sing and so can I. We just need to all get on the same page.

Right now, I'm listening to the recording we did at last night's rehearsal. It's, meh, OK, etc. Like Simon Cowell says, "If I'm being honest," well, it's pretty bad. Especially the vocals. Add to the fact that me and Corey are off to the races on nearly every song and, well, you have a pretty rough rehearsal.

But the thing is, it wasn't that bad. Musically, it's pretty solid. But we definitely need to work on:
  • Vocals (lead and harmonies)
  • Tempos (too much pushing the beat)
I'm guilty of all the stuff I've mentioned, but I think some tough love may be necessary in order for those things I mentioned to improve.