I’ve always been a big music fan. When I was a kid, I’d spend hours listening to my parents albums and 8-track tapes through a pair of Pioneer headphones, and later in junior high I joined a classical music record club and started recording rock and other popular music off of the radio. Around this time, I also started getting into stereo equipment and reading Stereo Review magazine. I didn’t start playing an actual instrument until I was in high school and I bought my first electric guitar, a cheap and cheerful Kramer Aerostar ZX30 with a black body and a white pickguard. Then a couple of years later, I bought a Fostex 4-track and a cheap Bradley bass and started writing and recording songs. I’ve been in a few bands over the years, all of which played our own material, but in recent years I’ve focused exclusively on solo stuff.
chronomera (2012 – )
When I moved to Texas in 2012, I started working on some solo material after not having played much for a few years. Despite having played guitar on-and-off since I was a teenager, I had never really put in the time to become very good. So I decided to start playing at least a few minutes every day, and at least a couple of hours or more on the days I have off. After several hundred hours of practice, I’m still nowhere near as proficient as a professional player, but I’ve been able to record some stuff that I really like and couldn’t have imagined playing before. I’ve also put some time into playing bass, electronic drums, and even a litle bit of keyboards, although mostly just for playing really simple stuff using virtual instruments in Logic Pro.
I’m still working on a first release of this new solo material, but that’s one advantage of solo projects. You can work on them as long as you’d like. I’m hoping to release an album on SoundCloud and/or iTunes in the next few months, and I’ll post links to it here when I do. I’ve also started to record some ambient guitar pieces using a Strymon Dig Dual Digital Delay pedal I picked up a few months ago. The Dig sounds amazing, much better than the Boss digital delays I remember from my youth. Here’s a video I recently submitted for the Chords of Orion Ambient Guitar Contest. I had to rush a bit to get it done before the contest deadline — so it’s not perfect — but I still think it turned out pretty cool. And it was nice to finally get something out into the world. Sometimes you need a deadline just to build a little bit of momentum.
Now that I have Logic Audio X setup for recording with an Focusrite iTrack Solo for input — and Camtasia setup to create videos and publish them to YouTube — I’m going to try to post music vidoes to my channel on a regular basis. I’ll also be uploading these ambient guitar tracks to my SoundCloud account.
option d (1998 – 2003)
The last band I played in was called option d, a three-piece with Jo Ferneau on guitar, Brian McCauley on drums, and me on bass. This band was a little different than the others because we were completely instrumental (no vocals), we did quite a bit of improvisation in practice as well as during our live shows, and we composed most of our songs collaboratively. While we practiced a few times a week in a great basement practice space at 24th and Potrero, we only played a handful of shows at small clubs and friends’ places in and around the Bay Area. I still had a lot of fun in this band, though, and we played on-and-off for a few years until both of my bandmates eventually left San Francisco. We did release two CDs and a couple of demo tapes on our own record label in the late nineties and early 2000s. You can check out the albums on our SoundCloud account.
vaccine (1993 – 1995)
Vaccine was the last band I put together in Maryland before moving to California in late 1995. I played guitar, wrote songs, and sang vocals while Jim McNabb played bass and Eric Kreinar played drums (both had previously played in the band Emmet Swimming). Instrumentally, we were a bit heavier and slightly more refined than the bands I had been in before, although I was never able to get the vocals to sound the way I wanted. We were moving away from shout-singing at the time and trying to do something a little bit more melodic, but I just didn’t have the voice to pull it off. We did record a few songs at a friend’s studio, and I may still have a cassette of these songs packed away somewhere. If I can find it, I’ll post it here. I also have some 4-track cassette masters from some tunes we recorded ourselves, although I no longer have a 4-track cassette machine to play them. There’s one instrumental track from those masters that I’d like to hear again someday, so I may have to pick up a 4-track on eBay eventually.
greenroom (1992 – 1993)
Next I played bass in a band called greenroom for a while, just concentrating on improving my bass playing while leaving the songwriting and vocals to other members. I did get to write the bass lines for the newer songs, though, and some of them were kinda cool. We went through a few drummers while I was with them, and some of them could really rock out, which lead me to look for something a bit heavier when I put together my next band. This group was fun while it lasted, but after a while I started to get the bug to write and perform my own songs again. That, plus a really long commute from where I was living at the time to our practice space, motivated me to move on to something else. Crash Khan was the main singer/guitarist/songwriter for greenroom, and I’m sure he’s still out there somewhere belting out songs and collecting Marshall stacks.
urbino (1988 – 1992)
I did manage to put together a three-piece band in college called Urbino where I wrote the songs, played guitar, and sang (well, tried to anyway). My friends Doug Wyllie and Adam Schwartz played drums and bass respectively, and for a brief period in the beginning we had a singer named Amanda (Doug’s girlfriend). We played a few times on campus at UMCP, as well as a few of the smaller clubs in DC like d.c. space. It was a lot of fun and got me hooked on being in a band for the next few years.
We released a couple of cassettes that we recorded on my 4-track, and in 1991 we recorded an album at a studio called the Hat Factory (run by Tony French) in downtown Baltimore. One of the tracks was released on a Baltimore Compilation CD with other Baltimore-based bands. At the last minute before the release and shortly before the band broke up, we changed our name to Smudge — the name of our drummer’s cat — due to some negative feedback we’d received for the name “urbino”. The link on the compilation page above erroneously redirects to another band named Smudge.
sheiko burmese (1986 – 1989)
My childhood friend Chris and I wrote a couple of songs and tried to get a band together, but nothing ever really materialized. A few years later, the two of us did collaborate on a 4-track recording calling ourselves Sheiko Burmese. I borrowed my Aunt’s Roland TR 808 drum machine which we had a lot of fun programming (I recently looked into picking one up on eBay, and couldn’t believe how expensive they are now. I can’t imagine why anyone would want one for anything other than nostalgia.) Maybe someday I’ll dig out this recording and post it here.