I’m a “composer”

Much better than a decomposer, eh? (cue the “wah-wah-wah” sound effect).
So in the continuing saga of Heath pursues his dreams in a round about way, here’s the latest on what’s happening. The big nice professional studio downtown who I was doing the “mock folk song” jingle for, had asked me to send them the “music only” so they could get a bunch of different singers to sing it (which is what the ad campaign called for; there would be different people singing every line). I sent them the music only which I had recorded at home on my computer. The next day I emailed to make sure they got it, and I got a response saying “yeah, we’ve been working on it all day. Come on down and help the engineer mix it if you have the time”. Well I knew the engineer didn’t really need my help mixing it, but I certainly didn’t want to pass up some face time at the studio, which is a way cool place, so I immediately went down there.
I went and sat in the extremely cushy control room, and watched the guy fly through the Pro-tools program like a madman, tweaking the tiniest details that I was amazed his ear could even detect. There I was, listening to my own composition being sung by a mass of different people, and watching a professional engineer at a professional studio laboring over this little jingle I had written. It was super cool. He’d play little chunks of it over and over, adjusting levels, EQ, compression, etc. All these people singing my silly little words over my goofy music. Very cool.
As I left I was surprised to be handed a check for $100. Now normally I would have got $350 just for the demo, but I was initially told that since this was “on spec” meaning that the studio didn’t have this sold yet, and were doing it for free to try and impress the client into buying it, coupled with the fact that it was sort of my “audition” to be considered for the pool of composers, that I would be doing it for free. Nice surprise for me! Even better yet, if the client buys the spot I’ll get another $2500.
After this cool experience, Friday was not so good. I had what could only be described as a mini-nervous breakdown in relation to the whole life/job situation. I was just miserable and had a long talk with Jess about it all. We don’t really have much more of a clue than before, but it was good that we talked about it. Basically the problem is that I swing wildly between two extremes. One being “Hey everything is starting to take off and a real job would only prohibit me from adequate pursuing these fruits to fruition”. The other being “What the hell am I thinking? I have no idea if any of these avenues will actually be able to support life ever. I need to get a real job and just accept that I’ll have to pursue these things as a hobby only”.
Admittedly, we could scrape along at least until January on my meager earnings, plus perhaps borrowing some money from Craig (who has said he’s happy to help me out) knowing that I have some decent money coming to me in December. It would still be a stretch though until Jess can get a job.
The main problem is that all the things I’m pursuing really require full time dedication to make them happen. I may try and take some job at least until such time as it becomes a problem. For example if some project comes up that I couldn’t get off work for, then worry about quitting then. I don’t know. It’s very complicated.
Will and Annika have both filled me with envy (even though I know his job can suck, it’s still way cool and at least related to his interests and desires) and also inspired me. I actually sat down and worked on my screenplay today. I’m terribly lazy about it, and I really want to finish it so that I can get on to the painful process of letting others critique it, and then doing massive re-writes I’m sure. Then I can submit it to an agent, who will love it and get me a large money deal with someone to direct and star in it, because it’s feckin rules. I’m convinced it’s my ticket out (OK, so I’m being just a bit insanely hopeful; it’s the only way to be).
2 more things:
1. my mailbox was karmically balanced today. I got a bill from our new cable company for 94.32, but after canceling HBO which we got free for a month, and using our free pay-per-view movie coupon for “Equilibrium” it was $80. I also got a check from our old cable company (I guess I paid for the month after we had left) for 86.75. Looks like my karma is in the good for about $6.75.
2. Twice in this entry, I have used parentheses wherein I really needed to end one sentence and start another . For example the sentence:

I’m convinced it’s my ticket out (OK, so I’m being just a bit insanely hopeful; it’s the only way to be.)

What the hell is the correct way to do that? I chose a semi-colon for lack of knowing what to do. Should the semi-colon be a period within the parentheses? Should I just not structure a sentence that way because it’s wrong? Help!

My fortune cookie says…

“Your present plans are going to succeed”. Wow, how I hope that cookie knows what it’s talking about. Aside from no real income, I’ve frighteningly been actually starting to have a taste of the life I want to be leading. Craig Davis has been keeping us alive with his generosity in paying me for our studio work and such.
Even though the money’s not rolling in yet, I’ve been quite busy, and am seeing a lot of possibilities. I may just be on my way to doing what I want to be doing. Yesterday alone, we went into the studio, polished this jingle we’re trying to get sold (hopefully within the next week or so), then cut a new song for our upcoming CD. When I got home I had an email from the other studio I’d been in contact with about jingle work, and they wanted to know if I could do a mock folk song in the vein of “A Mighty Wind”. I got the email at 5:00, and a few hours later I had emailed them a finished demo (I have my computer set up to act as a home studio).
This morning he had emailed me back with some changes and by 1:00 this afternoon I had sent him the revamped demo. I was quite proud of my 20 hour turnaround time from first contact to finished demo, which included 8 hours of sleeping, and some idle time too. Here’s hoping the company buys it and throws some money at me.
Craig and I are preparing for our full frontal assault on the music scene too. We’ve talked to the drummer we use in the studio about playing for us, and it happens he also books bands at many places all around Austin. We just need a singing bass player to complete the band. We’re looking to have some promo pictures done, and start getting press packets out to everyone, and doing some gigs. Hopefully our CD will be finished by year end. Many things are a-brewing. If we can only hold out financially, there is great potential.
I’m keeping this fortune from the cookie with me at all times.

My bohemian lifestyle…

is coming together nicely. Today I got up at the obscene hour of 5 a.m. to go be an audience member for an infomercial. We all met in a mall parking lot and were driven in a really nice bus to San Antonio where it was shooting. Much to my surprise the infomercial starred THE infomercial guy. The English guy in the red bow tie and suspenders. If you haven’t seen this guy, then you must not have seen many infomercials. Anyway we clapped and laughed, and acted like we had just seen the miraculous ways of The Brookshine Automotive Surface Treatment System until about 11 a.m. and then they didn’t need us for a while so we ate free food, and lounged around the studio. It turned out they didn’t need us at all for the rest of the day so we just hung around until 3 p.m. when we loaded back on the bus and came back to Austin.
On the way back I got a call on my cell phone to tell me that I will be playing a policeman in the new Luke and Owen Wilson movie “The Wendell Baker Story” so that is mega cool (hi Bettie! Oh, side note: I made Jess watch “Kung Pow: Enter The Fist” the other day and was extra amused every time they called the bad guy Bettie).
Craig Davis and I are doing an acoustic duo show tomorrow night at The Pier, which should be interesting, fun, and by the seat of our pants. We also continue work on our upcoming CD.
I got another call about a real job yesterday, also. They are supposed to call me back later this week for an interview. It sounded like the best job so far, but we’ll see. I’m still waiting to hear about the other job that was supposed to call me back as soon as the hiring manager got his stuff together. I also have a third (and least attractive) job possibility I could probably take if both these others somehow fall through. I’ve determined that I am going to put all my efforts tomorrow into finding Jess a job so that I can do my best to render these points moot.

For your listening pleasure…

Todays studio session produced Hello “Mr. Sunshine”. I dig it. I’m on guitar, bass, drums, tambourine and backup vocals. It’s a bit “out there” but in a cool way.
Oh, and I had 2 job possibilities today. This is good for the money situation, and yet I can’t really say I’m happy about it as this means what meager progress I have made in the acting/etc pursuits will now have to be shelved, at least for the moment. So yay for paying bills and all, but yet I strangely can’t really seem to find any joy in this turn of events.
I’m a great musician/writer/producer though! Very happy with that!

Life’s been good to me so far

Life in Austin has been way busy so far. Here’s the ups and downs of my recent life:
Talked to my contact at a local studio. He says he will give me a shot at some jingle work. Basically, there is a pool of composers all competing to sell their music for whatever project comes up. My first submission will be for free (which is reasonable since he shouldn’t just start paying out of blind faith). If he deems my talents usable, then I’ll join the pool of composers. Whenever a project comes up, I’ll submit my demo, for which I’ll get paid $350. If my demo is actually chosen by the company out of all the submissions, I’ll probably get about $2500 (varies according to project). This is all theoretical at the moment, and we’ll see if any of this pans out into actual work for me.
I made $200 yesterday as a studio guitar player. Craig Davis wanted to cut one of our new songs for the upcoming CD, and also there are a couple of generic car jingles we wanted to finish for this guy who thinks he can really get some business going. Hopefully this could possibly turn into some work for Craig, Spencer (the guy who owns and runs the studio), and myself. So I laid down guitar on 2 jingles, then Craig and I recorded a new tune for the CD. The session was a blast. I am so in my element in the studio. Craig brings in great tunes, I take them and add parts, arrange, produce, spice up, etc., and Spencer engineers and produces and comes up with great ideas and suggestions too. Having that third brain and set of ears in there really helps come from different angles.
Yesterdays session was fun in that this tune had just been written last week and we really didn’t have it very planned out at all, so we just ended up sort of creating it as we recorded it and ideas came to us. Craig did the vocals and piano, and I laid down, bass, guitars, backup vocals, and even a sitar part. Very cool track. When we get done with the whole CD, we’re going to have a great drummer named Dexter come in and replace the temporary drum machine (used just to keep time in the song) with real, live soulful drums. That makes ALL the difference in the world. In fact, I debated whether to even post the song right now since it’s so unfinished, but what the hell. When the finished CD comes out you’ll have had a glimpse into the creative process.
(file deleted now 10/15/2004) – rough mix, no drums yet (just a drum machine keeping time), and generally unfinished, but still cool.
Monday night we went to an meeting, which was cool and fun. Afterward we went to an audition for a freebie short film about a serial killers therapy group. I didn’t get cast. Tonight I’m auditioning for another freebie project. It’s a student miniseries about vampires.
I finally heard back from an application I put in online from IKON office solutions. The recruiter was going to forward my resume to the hiring manager here in Austin for a position where I’d basically work for different companies all the time filling in when someone was gone or needed. I think I’d be doing tons of copying, scanning etc. I still haven’t heard back from the hiring manager. I may inquire further today.
Internet, cable, and toilet are all in working condition. The apartment is cool. I have good friends and family who have helped out however they could. My wife rules, so I’m never alone.
I really don’t want to go back to working for “the man” in a job I have no passion for. The thought sucks my very life away, but I see no way around it currently. Our bank account is dwindling to scary proportions. I very well may be inquiring at the Blockbuster video next to our apartment complex for employment as well as a couple of banks in the vicinity, and anything else I see as I drive around the streets. If it weren’t for my $200 session work yesterday, I’d be in serious panic mode.
I think I’ve about taxed my brain on this epic entry. Stay tuned for further adventures.

I’m somebody!

*Title gratuitously borrowed from Steve Martin’s “The Jerk”*
Looky here!
Aside from that, we’re just preparing for the big move to Austin in two weeks. I’ve found a job that I REALLY want yet have about as much chance of getting as I do of winning the lottery. It’s working for the Austin branch of Sony Online Entertainment who run Star Wars Galaxies. The application process is one of those nameless, faceless “cut and paste you resume in this online form” processes which sucks. I also mailed a hard copy to their San Diego headquarters just for the hell of it. Man, that would be too cool, but I’ll be shocked if I even hear back from them.
In an effort to not repeat the financial fiasco of having 6 overdrawn fees of $32 (one of which was on a $.09 copy, thus becoming a $32.09 copy) I have downloaded a totally kick arse, and FREE program for my Palm Vx called Ma Tirelire, which apparently is French for “My Piggy Bank”. Last weekend I searched through all the freeware financial programs for the palm, and this was literally the last one there was that I hadn’t tried. As it turned out, it was also by far the absolute best. The functionality and features of this program are just outstanding. Far more than you’d get from most commercial programs. I never thought I could get excited about a financial management program, but this one has got the goods. If you use a palm device, I highly recommend it.

I’m a renegade of funk.

Yes that’s right, we’re off for another weekend in Austin! We’ll be going out for Jess’s birthday tonight, and then just enjoying the fourth of july festivities all weekend with some possible geocaching in there too.
Random point #1:
I have found new inspiration to practice my guitar playing in the form of Guitarport. Line 6 decided to make my Pod XT compatible with their Guitarport software which was a genius move. Now us Pod XT users can make use of one of the coolest tools I’ve ever seen for guitar players, and Line 6 get a bunch of new Guitarport subscribers. Basically it’s a program where I can backup all the amps, effects etc, that I’ve tweaked in my Pod XT, and for a subscription price, I can access tons of online tones, lessons, and tracks to jam along too. For example, Eddie Kramer, who produced Jimi Hendrix, has remixed some original Hendrix tracks minus the guitar, so it’s like you’re actually jamming with Hendrix’s band on your computer. You can also load up any song on your hard drive if you want to jam along with that. Plus the interface and functionality are just incredible. I’ve found new inspiration to actually sit around the house and play! Words can not express how cool this is.
Random point #2:
In other geeky joy, I also have a new version of my geoaching program for my Palm Vx (which I use as my GPS unit by attaching it to an external GPS attachment). The program is Geoniche and the new version rocks. I easily downloaded 10 geocache waypoints yesterday and loaded them into my unit with complete descriptions and all thanks to the new java applet. Much better than entering in all the coordinates and such by hand.
So now that most of you have most likely stopped reading long ago thanks to my ramblings on things that probably sound like gibberish to you unless you’re into guitar playing or geocaching, I leave those of you who made it all the way through with an amusing mondegreen (misheard lyric) of my own. Before I knew what Rage Against The Machine were actually saying in “Renegades Of Funk” I thought it sounded like “Random Case Of Funk”. This came up because after a shower this morning, I commented to Jess that the bruise on my knee from toooooooooooobing last weekend had turned “lovely shades of funk”. After a pause we both looked at each other and started singing “lovely shades of funk” to the afore mentioned RATM song. Ever since then I’ve been singing to myself “With a random case of funk! With a random case of funk!” That, and Weird Al’s “Hardware Store” which has been stuck in my head since I bought the album.
Have a great weekend, everyone! Miss us!

Wow. Where to start…

So as some of you may have read on my wife’s page, ahead lies potential life upheaval, but in a good, adventurous, yet crap your pants kind of way.
We were planning to move to Austin in August. Then I get this email about these people who are in Hong Kong for the next 6 months, and need a house sitter because their current sitter can’t do it anymore. This house is in Roundrock (which is practically part of Austin. North Austin just merges into Roundrock). So they need someone, pronto.
Now this is just the largest in a series of events that seem to just be custom tailored and handed to us. We’ve known for some time that we wanted to probably move to Austin, and then I emt Craig Davis who has become one of my best friends, and musical collaborators, and who lives in Austin. So already musical things were lining themselves up in the big A. Now this house sitting possibility, which is just perfect. Six months of rent free living in a 2400 square foot house. We would pay the utilities. Since we have our apartment here through August, this would allow us to just slowly and casually move all our stuff in stead of having to do it all in one big go. I still have lots of band gigs here, so I figure every weekend we come down to play, we’ll also do some more packing and moving.
In addition, I could actually pursue acting, film crew, and music opportunities in Austin, because there actually ARE opportunities. Craig, who has never worked any “normal” jobs, but only done jingles and musically related things like that, thinks I could definitely find tons of work as a musician. There’s one particular guy who Craig has worked with over the years who owns the company which Craig has written many jingles for. We’re talking pretty big stuff like major beer companies and such. The company has several in house studio facilities, and Craig thinks that I could probably start picking up work there as a musician, jingle writer, voice actor, etc. All my various talents could probably be put to use there. We’ll see how that pans out. Additionally this same guy is also really good friends with my uncle.
Not to mention Craig and I are recording a new CD, which will probably come out under the band name “The Toreadors”, and we’re working on a project of his called “Mr. Hobs the 3 legged cat” which will be a children’s story, with an bunch of original songs, and possible voice acting tasks for me. He already has some parties interested in it. Not sure what form it will take yet possibly a book/cd combo with the book voiced on the CD along with the songs for the book.
He also, nonchalantly, told me how he met with a guy from Maverick records (Madonna’s label) and this guy is trying to get 3 of his songs recorded by another artist.
So now I’m waiting on the email back from the house sitting people. If they haven’t already found someone, then I will be putting in my job notice immediately and in a week or two we will be living in Roundrock, unemployed with the world on a platter before us. Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.

Remember that movie I did?

Probably not. However I totally forgot to relate this really cool story from when we were in Dallas. We were at The Angelika Theatre, a really nice movie theatre, to see “A Mighty Wind“. I was at the concession stand to get some goodies when to my left I suddenly notice a mounted poster on a stand that’s touting the grand premiere of The House Of The Generals at The Angelika on May 15. There’s a Los Angeles premiere on June 12 at The Regent Showcase Theatre.
This is the movie that I did when I lived in Dallas in 1999. I had a small role as a Russian Tank commander. Here is a picture of me sitting in a tank. It was quite wild, and sort of exciting for me to just randomly stumble upon that by pure chance of being in that particular theatre 3 weeks before the premiere of a movie that I was in 3 years ago! Of course, if my “Walker, Texas Ranger” career is any indicator, my part will probably end up on the cutting room floor. I guess we’ll see!

Adventures in band gigs, last night edition

Last night we played at a place called “The Hall Of Fame” for a big party for a bunch of photographers. Since they all work on the weekends doing weddings and such, they have their annual party on a tuesday (we’ve played it for several years now). I really love playing this place because it’s big, and has a great built in sound system meaning everything sounds huge and good, and we don’t have to bring our own system. It also has a band dressing room with couches, and it’s own bathroom with a shower (not that I’d ever use it since it’s kind of icky)!
I’ve got a new toy by Line 6 called the Pod XT. This little unit simulates 32 guitar amps, tons of speaker cabinets, microphones on the speaker cabinets, and has tons of built in effects. So between my Variax and the Pod XT I now have a room full of guitars and amps in one tiny compact little setup.
Since the Pod emulates all parts of the guitar amp chain, you get the best results running through a “full range” system like a P.A., or a keyboard amp, so I ordered a supposedly great keyboard amp which should be in next week. Our keyboard player had also ordered one because his old one is kinda flaky, and these new ones were a real good deal. He offered to let me use his new amp until mine comes in since it doesn’t really make as much difference to him as it does for my guitar stuff, and he still had his old amp to use.
We get to soundcheck and I set my stuff up through his new amp, and it sounds awesome. I can’t wait to get mine now. Jess and I left to get some food and such and when we returned before the gig the sound guy said “your amp was making really weird noises so we turned it off”. I go to investigate, and sure enough every time I turn it on it makes very weird noises and kinda smells funny. Eventually the weird noises stop, but at that point all I can get out of it is a weak distorted sound that obviously indicates the amp is dead. It’s getting shipped off for a replacement today. Luckily I just plugged my Pod into the P.A. system and had it turned up in my monitor so I could hear it on stage.
The first set was really rough. Everyone was making little mistakes here and there, even me which is highly unusual. 😉 There was one point when Angonia called out a certain country song to do, and I proceeded to start a completely different song much to the surprise of all the band. My excuse was that all those country songs sound alike, and both were about drinkin’.
The rest of the night went pretty well with the exception of some obnoxious and annoying people, Angonia old keyboard amp going back to it’s flaky ways, and our drummer breaking one of his cymbals and hurting his arm on the way back from the bathroom. He had to pee really badly so he ran to the bathroom between songs, and on the way back he ran into this big metal piece of electrical machinery in the hall. It tore the sleeve of his shirt, so during our break he just ripped the sleeves off and made it a sleeveless shirt.
An amusing anecdote about one of the annoying people:
these two girls came to the stage and started asking if we knew all these songs. It went something like this…
girl: Do you know “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seger?
us: No, we sure don’t.
girl: (indignant look) What? If you don’t know that song , you guys suck!
rest of band (who are drooling over themselves at the pretty girl even though they are all married, and apparently think that playing this song will somehow instigate some fantasy sequence where the pretty girl goes to the dressing room and pleasures them): Well we could probably do it!
me (knowing full well that we could do it, and in fact have done it before, but not wanting to do it because it’s an overplayed clich� and apparently being the only one not under this siren’s spell since I don’t care if she’s pretty or not, she’s a bitch): [dirty look at band] No, we can’t!
girl: What about “The Cotton-Eyed Joe?”
us (normally we just play a recording of this during our break to save us the agony): No. We don’t have a fiddle player.
me (as girl, again, looks disgusted with us): but we know this…
I then launch into our next song to end this little exchange of obnoxiousness.
Ah, my glamorous rock star life. Then there was the guy who wanted to sit and play drums with us.
I’ll end with two important pointers:
1) it’s OK to ask if we know a song or 2, but don’t cop an attitude, and don’t sit there for 5 minutes listing through 20 songs that you want us to play. While we have a very extensive set list that could probably fill 6-8 hours if we played every song we knew (and more if we played all the songs we could even fake), that leaves approximately 9,876,678,155,984,278 hours worth of music that we don’t know.
2) Don’t ask to play or sing with the band. This isn’t karaoke.