Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Always learning

For years and years and years, I've worn some silicone "tree"-like earplugs when I'm playing bass or going to shows. The ones I have are similar to this, but clear and made for music.
They cut out enough and let me hear what I need to hear, while protecting my ears at the same time. Or so I thought.

Last night at band practice, we really focused on vocals for a change. I recorded our last show, and let's just say that the vocals left a bit to be desired. The sound guy and mixed them hot, and I had the camera mic right near the speakers, so those hot vocals really jumped out on the video. Though not 100% awful, it's not good enough to let others hear.

I've known that we've always had opportunities to get better vocally, but we never really worked on it. We always felt we were close enough. After seeing that video, we definitely need to get better.

For a while now, with the Navins, at least, I've always thought I sang in key and as close to pitch as possible. Of course, I've never sang lead before the Navins, either, so a lot of what I'm doing is new. But I feel like over the past year or so, I've gotten a lot better.

When I heard the video, I still felt that way, that for rock and roll my vocals were good enough. That with more practice, I would get better than "good enough."

Last night during practice, Corey and I worked on our vocals. He sings a lot of backing vox and I always thought he would be flat. I was surprised when both Cain and Gary commented that my vocals were off a bit. Not that I'm not blameless, but to my ear, I always seemed to hear Corey's vocals tailing off.

I was getting a little frustrated as I couldn't tell how I was missing my notes. Then I remembered I had another set of earplugs I got from work a few years ago. I forget the brand right now, but I tried them on and a few things changed. I could hear a lot more treble; Corey's high-hat really cut through and stood out. Also, my bass seemed less boomy. But, most importantly, I heard my vocals in my head a lot better.

Normally, I've been singing with my nose literally resting on the mic. That allows me to sing with my eyes closed and not be blindly hovering away from the mic. It also allows me to hear myself better as I'm closer to the mic. Right on it, actually. But in doing so, anytime I sing loud, it really overpowers the mic and it's just too much.

I'm working on modulating my distance from the mic, but with the other earplugs, I'm able to back off quite a bit and still hear myself. I felt like I was really able to grab onto the notes I had to sing and hold. Thought I lost a lot of the bottom end of my bass, which I missed, the frequencies I gained in my vocal listening really made up for it.

We have a show in about a week and a half. It's our biggest show to date, being at the Sunset for the first time. We're opening for two bands with some juice (Guns of Nevada and the Meices) and we expect to see a lot of people there. With just one more practice to go, here's hoping we can get the vocals dialed in so I can post a video without fear of embarrassing ourselves.