INDY ROCK BLOGS
INDY ROCK BLOG #188
By Johnny Fast
The joys of trying to organize a tour! I don't know how anybody does it but for me, it is one of the most tedious things. It comes down to persistence. Over years I have built relationships with different booking managers and owners and developed a bit of a circuit that we like to play. Even with that, it is always a challenge. Many emails and phone calls to line up the venue's and in an order that makes sense and then trying to line up bands, openers and closers. Some are quick to respond and others don't at all. There's the unexpected which can happen and threaten to collapse everything. Like a band having to cancel or a sudden illness or of course, the weather. Our arch nemesis! It never fails to make things interesting.
Once the hotel rooms are booked, vehicles loaded the fun really begins. Arriving at a new, never played venue is a guessing game so we make sure we are prepared for the worst. Extra cables and connections, tape, strings and zip ties, soundboards and speakers. Where to load in and what time does the soundman arrive, or maybe the soundman doesn't exist. Be prepared my friend, it's showtime!
INDY ROCK BLOG #187
By Les Mitchel
As the clock winds down on the summer music season, I can now objectively reflect on the past year of shows. Since live music became a thing again, I’ve re-experienced the whole gamut of performing - an inclusive mix of indoor/outdoor, electric/acoustic, single set/multi set, single band/multi band shows. It was all memorable and I have to say that it was very close to how I remember it.
As expected after a long hiatus of not performing, certainly the longest such break since I became a musician, there were a few clam notes played and brain malfunctions. Strange how the mind can go completely blank, even during a part that I may have written and played flawlessly for years. Overall, I think the performances were solid given the circumstances. We laughed, we cried, we laughed again, and we tried to leave all that we had on the stage. There were nights where everything worked perfectly and there were other nights where it seemed like there was just one long series of technical difficulties.
As this past year seemed like a bit of a musical rebirth, I experimented by using different guitars, different strings, different pedals, even different picks - no small feat for a creature of habit like me. I’m guessing that this approach contributed to some of my gear malfunctions but I’ll be damned if I didn’t create some fascinatingly bizarre sounds that have no musical value whatsoever. Back to the lab before the next show…
INDY ROCK BLOG #186
By Tom Bland
In todays rock and metal music more and more females have graced the stages to entertain their fans. This is fantastic and added a whole new direction especially in metal. Metal bands with scorching hot songs that had growling vocals (nothing wrong with that) now have vocalists with pristine voices fronting the band. Yes, earlier on we had Lee Aaron and others but it was limited up until the last ten or so years. Just in the short time I started Indy Rock Network I have seen an insurgence of talented female performers in all aspects of the industry. From guitarist, bassists, drummers, vocalists and behind the seens workers. Evergray came through a couple of years back and their sound person was a tiny blond that got huge sound for the bands, she was exceptional at her job. What I like about this trend is that we are seeing an influx of female hard rock/metal musicians that will only bolster the band/group dynamic. So keep rockin ladies, I can’t wait to see what the future brings.
Indy Rock Network follows some of the best and here is a list, check their bands out on our band page. My apologies if I missed anyone.
-Casandra Carson - Paralandra
-Kendra Jae Emms - Northern Royals
-Emelle Eternal - Eternal Frequency
-Eva Shamira - Ember Sea
-Valerie Ann - Black Optic
-Chantelle Night - Eternal Now
-Mirte Van Der Ham - Manora
-Yanairis Fernandez - Bonus
-Suzanne Mcintosh - Dream Sanctuary
-Erin Lyndsay - Raven Witch
-Chris T’ Anti - Queen Of Distortion
-Kristina Gasparic-Block - Kriss The Sky
-Krista Lundemo - Wabash & Lake
-Fallon Weidner - All From Nothing
-Jordan Skelly - Co Komono
-Zosia West - Reign Of Z
-Jasmine Virginia - Polarity
INDY ROCK BLOG #185
By Paul Denton
The Indy Band
What is the purpose of an Indy band? Correct me if I’m wrong, but to me it starts with a vision. Usually this vision begins with one or two friends who plan out their goals .Once they have mapped out the future plans its now time to recruit other members who will fit into that vision and help to reach their goals. This process may take several years to solidify as life styles change for so many of us. Finally as this become aligned what is the next step? I guess the obvious would be to start rehearsals and find out where the writing ability will come from. Do you write to suit your vocalist or just work around a guitar riff? Once the songs and set are perfected we begin to think about live performance. This may become a difficult situation depending on where the band is based out of. Does your community have venues that support Indy bands, or do you have to travel?
Personally I’ve always been a big believer of promoting and getting the product out to the masses. It has to be done. That being said, do you take that task on by yourselves or do you hire an agency to do so? There is a lot to think about as we move forward. For the many bands involved with the Indy Rock Network this is a big step to introducing your band and music. Just think the more people that know about us the more fans will hear about you!
To all the bands ,thank you for what you do. Keep it real, keep it true.
INDY ROCK BLOG #184
By Johnny Fast
We are back at it this fall. Lining up or fall tour and gearing up for our album release. The trick with Western Canada touring is getting the dates and venues to line up in as smooth as order as possible. From Saskatoon and then to connecting cities it can be two or three hours of driving easily so we try our best to make a schedule that makes the most sense and reduces excess kilometers when possible. We don't make enough money as it is to incur too many needless expenses.
It is a labor of love and when you account for the countless hours of practice and thousands of dollars spent over the years on gear and equipment, we started behind the eight ball. We usually make enough money per show to at least soften the blow off gas, food and hotels which is really all we can ask. Anybody reading this, not in a band, should understand this and get out and support live music! Also asking to be on the guest list so that you can come out and support the band isn't really supporting them if you know what I mean, especially considering tickets/cover charge is often only ten to twenty bucks for three or more bands. Normally the bands will get a cut of the door which generally doesn't leave a lot to go around considering the costs and time incurred.
Anyway, I'm not writing this blog to complain because the truth is most musicians I know would do this for free. It's not really a topic that comes up in our band meetings, it just sort of "is what it is". The excitement lies in the journey, the time spent on the road talking and making jokes, some drinks at the venue and in the hotel room. The set up, anticipation and finally the performance.
I'm really looking forward to stringing some shows together and getting into that sweet spot. After a few shows the performance becomes automatic and the band achieves a level of tightness that can only be attained from live performance. Catch us on tour and enjoy the music as much as we love playing it! We think the new music is our best yet!
INDY ROCK BLOG #183
By Tom Bland
We finally got back to practicing a couple of weeks back. Pretty rusty but not as bad as I was expecting. Our songs are fairly long so we are struggling remembering the sequence, order of parts or just plain how we did certain songs. It could be very frustrating but we laugh it off, listen to recordings we have of the song if we have one and straighten it out.
My point is we laugh at our struggles with songs but muddle through. Music has to be fun, you can’t take everything too serious while still being professional and focused. I’ve been in bands that one person had to control most everything, and often the bands deteriorated and members moved on. Most bands have that one/two people who take the lead and band members graciously follow and contribute their talents to the project. When all members of a band are engaged and contributing it makes the band so much more productive. A good leader(s) know this and are an equal part of the band and the others know this. Our band has this and is why we’ve lasted together for so many years.
So to all you musicians just getting started, put your egos away and don’t be afraid to let others contribute it will only make your band better. Great bands stay together and work through issues, the longer you are together the tighter and more efficient on stage and off you become. Sometimes change is unavoidable so take the time and attract the right people to join your family and that is pretty much what it is, family.
INDY ROCK BLOG #182
By Les Mitchell
Summer continues to race by at a frightening pace but there a few outdoor shows left before we transition into the indoor seasons. One thing I experienced recently that hadn’t really occurred since 2019 is the summer music festival. I was really looking forward to this! In order to ease back into it, I decided on dedicating one day to attend and soak everything in. I chose a day featuring bands that began in the Canadian 90’s as that’s the era I most identify with and many of those bands continue to make great music.
I attend this particular long running festival every year and have also performed at it many times. When I arrived, it was like the two year hiatus never happened. I couldn’t walk ten yards without running into familiar characters. It was the same smiles, same grass, same mud, and the same bugs. Finally, everything seemed all the way back to normal, with the music flowing just as freely as the beer.
Being a musician in a very appreciative crowd is sometimes difficult, as most musicians would rather be on the stage than in front of it. However, I did experience so many waves of joy and excitement just being there as a fan, absorbing the atmosphere, the music, and the stars. The musicians needed this, the fans needed this, I needed this…
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INDY ROCK BLOG #181
By Paul Denton
So its been almost 4 months of being an unemployed musician. First time this has happened since the start of it all in the early 1980’s. I must say I’m really enjoying the break as its given me much time to reflect and think about the next chapter. I’m by no means into rushing into something and have to make sure the opportunity’s that maybe presented will fit my life’s schedule and musical goals. Spending valuable time with family and friends, celebrating special occasions and enjoying peaceful weekends by the fire have been priceless. Just a few of the sacrifices I’ve missed out on for so long.
Like all musicians will admit, music is in our blood and is what makes us who we are. I have just recently set up my gear in the garage for when I feel the time may come to continue on. Setting up my gear was somewhat emotional. I had to seriously re-think how to wire some of it up as well I must admit feeling goose bumps.
So with all the reflecting and thinking I have come to realize that if I’m able to continue playing and the right opportunity is there I would love to give it another go. Most likely next summer as I have mentioned. I’m in no hurry at the present time. I do know that for the most part the bar scene most likely would not interest me. I’ve always had the most fun while performing on bigger stages such as Festivals, Casino’s and theatre’s. That being said, I look forward to One Last Kick At The Can if given the opportunity.
INDY ROCK BLOG #180
By Johnny Fast
What was the music that inspired you? The songs or bands that changed your musical direction and shaped the style of your playing? I'm always listening to different music but over the years there has been certain moments which opened the door to be ideas.
I grew up through the grunge era, exposing me to lots of bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Rage Against The Machine etc. That was where I really got the interest and initial drive to start playing guitar, plus a friend of mine played guitar and showed me how to play Smells Like Teen Spirit in a music store in our small town.
After highschool I moved in with some friends, while going to university, and one of my roommates played me a cassette of Slayer, "South Of Heaven". It blew my mind with the double harmonizing lead guitars and driving thrash metal. This opened the door to a lot of classic and old school metal.
I have been really inspired by guitarists like Randy Rhodes (Ozzy) and Dimebag Darrel (Pantera) with their blistering solos and undeniable sound but also enjoying other guitarists beyond metal such as Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits "Brothers In Arms) and David Gilmour (Pink Floyd "Comfortably Numb").
There are so many guitarists, bands and song writers that have given me different perspectives on sounds and songs that the list would be pretty long but it is interesting to trace your own path and look at your own music and individual songs and figure out the inspirations that went into the process of each composition.
INDY ROCK BLOG #179
By Pete Zilinski
Back On The Horse
Well, it finally happened. After two and a half long years, we, Dream Sanctuary, had our first band practice. Needless to say, it did not go great. I’m sure that many musicians can relate to the issues that we had after not being together for so long. Trying to remember the arrangements was comical. You know you are rusty when the guitar only comes to you a second before you hit the bridge or the chorus. And for me personally, playing a lead solo the way that it was recorded! Not happening.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely fantastic to be playing together again. And I’m sure that once we shake the rust off, we will hit our stride once again. Just the fact that there is still chemistry in the band is very fulfilling in its own way. I will admit that sitting in my studio playing with superior drummer and noodling for hours on end kept me from completely losing touch with my instrument, but there is nothing like the feeling one gets when you are bouncing notes and real drums off of each other.
I guess that it goes without saying that nothing beats the adrenalin rush that comes with banging out some hard and heavy tunes live and in person.
INDY ROCK BLOG #178
By Les Mitchell
We’ve already been part of several multi-band gigs this summer and these type of shows can be challenging to pull off. There are often very short changeovers that are stressful for the musicians and techs alike and leave very little time for anything resembling a real soundcheck. There is also the possibility of something not working properly with no time to troubleshoot. Adjustments have to be made on the fly. Some shared equipment is almost always involved so performers may not even be using all of their own gear. These events are also a great way to build camaraderie within the local music scene. First of all, it puts many musicians from the scene in the same room at the same time. There is a lot of conversation and reminiscing while checking out each other’s performances. One may even get to watch a bandmate filling in with another group. The previously mentioned challenges may be also seen as positives through the sharing of equipment and helping each other move gear around.
This type of event may be solely to showcase the talent and diversity of the local scene. Other times, it may be held as part of a fundraiser, where the music scene works together as a whole to support a worthy cause. Whatever the reason, and despite the difficulties involved with staging such an event, they are a vital and rewarding part of being an independent musician…
INDY ROCK BLOG #177
By Paul Denton
I’ve often thought drummers were a strange and rare breed but what about the Vocalist ! This seems to be a position that can really help identify a band. The voice is an amazing instrument that take’s much energy and discipline to be able to perform. To me, the vocalist in many ways are the face and sound of the band. Knowing what to say in-between songs and communicating with an audience is an art form of it’s own.
What does it take for you Vocalist’s too prepare for a show? I’ve noticed that some like to disappear 15 minutes before a performance to do their vocal exercises and also most are never to be found during setup and tear down (lol). What kind of beverages help you through a performance? I know some prefer to only drink after the show. What are your thoughts? Understanding what you go through helps us to all appreciate what you contribute to the band.
There are so many questions I could ask but would love to hear from the one’s that front our band’s.
I tip my hat to the talented Indy Vocalist’s and look forward to hearing your response in helping us all understand what it takes to do what you do.
Indy Rock Network
INDY ROCK BLOG #176
By Johnny Fast
Taking a break is a great way to prolong the life of your band. There's got to be a balance and it can't be all business all the time or you run the risk of making it feel like a grind. At this level you likely already have a full time job. The band should be fun and a chance to break the stress. That doesn't mean it can't be serious and that you can't work hard, however we have always found it beneficial to take a week or two off when needed. Instead of forcing the practice when everyone already has a full schedule we often agree to reconvene at a later date. Summer is often that time. In Sask with the short summer and long weekends we like to enjoy that as well. Life and music are balance and I will feel rejuvenated and excited to get back to work after a couple weeks. The time away can let your mind wander and find it's way back to music and new ideas.
INDY ROCK BLOG #175
By Tom Bland
Most bands are finally getting out and playing gigs and music enthusiasts are coming out in support. It’s great to see the excitement again in bands and fans a like. I’ve seen photos of some of our bands playing live and how pumped these musicians are, especially the ones playing their first gig in a while! Bands are again feeling inspired and creative, probably like no other time in their lives.
For myself, behind the scenes with Indy Rock Network it isn’t much different. I thrive on seeing bands progress and accomplish their goals no matter how big or small. Just being able to contribute any support for indie bands is a rush for myself and anyone else involved with the Network.
It’s sometimes hard for indie musicians, juggling family, careers, school and the list goes on. It’s the love of creating music that drives us and the bumps along the road has made these musicians resilient. Almost all the bands have had some setbacks along the way. I think the most devastating to most bands is changing members. It’s hard to find that right person sometimes and get them up to speed. As tough as this can be, it’s just part of the game and no one’s fault in most cases just simple reasons mentioned above. My own band went through three vocalist, I believe, five bassists over the years. Most were amicable changes (with a couple of exceptions) due to life changes. It’s just part of the band dynamics and will always be a hurdle we must deal with.
Health is another issue that affects musicians. As we get a little older ailments like arthritis and muscle injuries can take it’s toll, as is the case with Paul Denton, myself and countless other. Sometimes a break can do miracles sometimes not so we step back or slow down a little and change our game plan.
Again, to all the musicians out there, carry on, keep dealing with these problems. When you look back they will seem trivial compared to the accomplishments and friends you find on your journey.
INDY ROCK BLOG #174
By Les Mitchell
After being virtually non-existent in 2020 and 2021, the summer music scene is alive and well. With outdoor festivals, BBQs, fairs, and bonfires, there is live music happening for all occasions. There is nothing quite like playing outdoors in the prairie summer. Wild weather, mosquitos, and humidity cannot dampen the spirits when performing under the sky and stars.
We’ve done a couple more shows since my last ramblings, one indoor and one out, and it looks like our scheduled shows for the rest of the summer are an even mix of both. That doesn’t include any spontaneous backyard jams, which can be all kinds of crazy and fun. Our summers are so woefully short that people need to be outside at every opportunity and music is an integral component to any summer gathering. Who doesn’t love a roaring bonfire with refreshments and live music? It’s also a great opportunity to involve others by getting people singing along or handing out tambourines and shakers.
Festivals, small and large, are another reason to look forward to summer. Of course, the ultimate experience is performing at them and maybe even crossing paths with someone you admire. It can also be refreshing just to attend as a music fan and take in a multitude of performers at a single event under the great big sky. Get out and enjoy it while it lasts…
INDY ROCK BLOG #173
By Paul Denton
We all share the same dream, play, perform and hope to make it big. I don’t remember any of us talking about seeking out a record contract. Is this just a thing of the past? Do the Indy bands even need such a contract? We all record and promote our music and create our videos. Are we better off being true to our music rather than bringing in outside influences that may or may not get what our vision is? Bringing in management, promotional people to tell us what we need to succeed can disrupt our master plan and dreams. These are just a few questions that have haunted me over the years.
Just recently I stumbled upon a network, Loudwire on YouTube were artists discuss the evils of the music industry and the effects it has on ones body. Just a few of the topics I found interesting. Topics I’m sure we all know but I found interesting to hear from some of our peers.
I would like to share a couple of links for everyone to see. Please feel free to give your thoughts and experiences.
Indy Rock Network
INDY ROCK BLOG #172
By Johnny Fast
Music is what we love to do. It's in our blood and the core of our being. It's something that's always in the back of our minds whenever we're doing anything. Fingers are always tapping a beat, voices always humming a progression and our heads nodding to a silent band in our heads. To deny that impulse would be impossible. Is it something we're born with or something that develops independently?
When my mother was pregnant, she used to play music to feel me kick to a beat. Not much has changed in over 40 years. I still feel that constant rhythm or riff that sometimes matches my mood or what I'm doing. Not being a full time professional musician and having a career that isn't music means that I don't get to put everyday, all day, into honing my skills and writing music though my mind is always subconsciously on automatic, thinking about the next riff, album and concept. Quite a few times I've been driving and had the idea of a song and hummed it into my phone voice recorder until I can get home and pick up a guitar.
The time away is probably beneficial in some ways as it gives your mind time to think and stew over the ideas and how is the best way to transition a song or find the perfect riff that would follow the already written part. I find that trying to force ideas is not as productive as walking away from an idea for awhile until it develops naturally.
It would be nice to be a full time career musician but most of us need to pay the bills in other ways. Still, the feeling is the same and when we do get to unleash it on stage or in the studio or practice room, it feels so natural. It's what we were born to do, or at least that's how we see it.
INDY ROCK BLOG #171
By Pete Zilinski
From a musical standpoint, where does inspiration come from? Whether it is at a live venue, a recording studio or just sitting in your own space trying to come up with a hook or a lyric. My personal experience has always depended on each of those situations.
Sometimes I feel that inspiration can be very fleeting. I do a lot of writing in my home studio and like most musicians these days I also have to hold down the day job. I usually head to the studio in the evenings after supper and although I’m quite certain that I’m going to be able to create that monster riff, and yet it just doesn’t always work that way. There are so many factors related to creating that masterpiece. Mood, workload, lack of sleep, time of day and the list goes on and on. This is not to say that it doesn’t happen on occasion and when that monster riff or great lyric does finally appear it all seems worthwhile.
I had the opportunity to record lead solos in a professional studio a little while back. The engineer at the studio said show up at noon and I’ll give you a couple of hours. The time constraint was because he had a wedding to go to that afternoon. Needless to say I felt a lot of pressure to be able to show up at the studio and perform flawlessly. I spent the preceding week going over my lead ideas and rehearsing them over and over. Confidence is high, and then that little red light comes on and the nerves set in. This is not at all like being able to do a hundred takes in my own studio. In the end, I got it done, not exactly the level that I had hoped for, but not too shabby.
The next time inspiration hits, I don’t care what time it is or where I am, I’m grabbing a guitar or a notebook and quickly writing the ideas down.
INDY ROCK BLOG #170
By Les Mitchell
Well it happened. After a nearly two year layoff, we finally got back on a stage again. The entire day was quite enjoyable, even the things that always seemed like chores before. I’ve never fully embraced the changing of guitar strings or lugging equipment, but this day was different, and I just smiled through all of the mundane tasks. It started to get really fun after rolling our gear onto the stage and we’re all laughing and screwing around while setting up. Everything still works! This is happening!
Soundcheck brought out the usual hilarity: daytime people not understanding what soundcheck is all about and complaining about the racket we were making; other daytime people requesting songs and us having to tell them A) this is only soundcheck and B)we don’t play that kind of music anyway.
By the start of the show, the adrenaline was flowing fast and I felt like a wild animal released from captivity. Once I finally calmed down enough to start taking in my surroundings, I knew that it was all back. The sounds, the lights, the fog, and the crowd were all mesmerizing and I was savouring every moment. The best part, however, was watching the rest of the boys do what they do and knowing that they were experiencing everything in the same way as I was.
Not long now before we get to do this again…
INDY ROCK BLOG #169
by Paul Denton
Most musicians will tell you the difficult decisions that have to be made throughout ones career. Whether it be changing a bandmember, having to cancel a show or life changes within each of us. Things that are not always a choice we like to make. I can only speak of my own experiences, being in this business for 40+ years that the toughest decisions have always been well thought out and never made hastily.
The past several years have given me time to really think hard. Am I considered to have an EGO for expecting good pay? In the old days it didn’t matter, it was all about the experience, but as you get older , the travel, time and hauling gear takes its toll, as Pete Zilinski had mentioned in his last Indy blog. This really touched home for me.
One of my toughest decisions was leaving a good original band after our second album due to arthritis in my hands. From there if I wanted to continue performing I had to find a project that I would be able to play in even though the songs had to be selective.
This brings me to the toughest decision of all. The pain in my hands as I write this is almost unbearable and I definitely know performing tonight would not be possible. Our drummer has known for a long time and somehow was able to persuade me into stretching this out. Unfortunately I now have to realize its time to step away. I’m not announcing a retirement by any means as I still have the musical blood flowing within, but for now a well earned break to recharge the batteries is needed. Not sure how long or when but I’m sure the stage will call very soon.
So here’s to the musicians past and present, family and friends that have given me endless support over the past 40+ years. Thankyou from the bottom of my heart.
Looking forward to performing for you all real soon.
UP THE IRONS!
INDY ROCK BLOG #168
by Johnny Fast
Our first show of the year was on Friday and though it's been awhile it was one of those nights where we just clicked. It felt so good after that we were like, why aren't we doing this all the time, let's book some shows and hit the road.
What's different between the nights? Sometimes I get in my head and struggle to play smoothly and without error and other nights I don't have to think about it at all. It just comes naturally. The tendency is to over think things. I find my pre show mind set is key and once on stage, the less I listen to myself and the more I listen to the band as a whole, the better I perform. I can usually tell within the first couple songs how the performance will go. If I'm dripping sweat, I'm playing well. Something about the hot lights and losing pounds of water weight during a performance just feels good.
We lightened the mood this time and instead of using some dark and ambient walk out music, we came out to "Just Like A Woman" by Bob Dylan. 12 years ago, before we were DTR, we were playing covers and packing up one night at 2:30am and that song was playing on the PA. It just stuck with us and we've always sang it at some point after each show during the pack out. It seemed fitting to walk out to it and helped lighten things up. Like a fighter, it's always good to feel loose when you get on stage and finding what gets you there is different for everyone.
Despite The Reverence
Indy Rock Network
INDY ROCK BLOG #167
by Pete Zilinski
It occurred to me that with all that has gone on in the past couple of years, isn’t it time for live music to make a strong showing. In a perfect world, there would be venues just begging for live acts. And one would like to believe that these venues would be willing to pay a fair price to acquire said acts. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. We are still seeing things like bars that offer little to no compensation for bands that are willing to perform at their establishment. If you are from the older generation of musicians and were around at a time when you got paid up front for your work, than like me, this is a hard pill to swallow.
This by no means should prevent any act from pursuing their musical goals, but as every musician knows, by the time you rehearse all of the material and log all that gear down to the venue, it seems to me that some monetary compensation is in order. Think about the time that you have spent investing in your chosen craft, not to mention having to put up with that lead guitar player constantly riffing out in every song! (lol.me) and don’t get me started about the ego on that lead singer (also me) he says tongue firmly in cheek.
I guess it just comes down to the absolute thrill of hitting that stage and feeling your pulse race as the hair stands up on the back of your neck. All performing musicians know and crave that sensation.
Keep the faith and keep on rocking.
INDY ROCK BLOG #165
By Les Mitchell
There doesn’t seem to be a false start this time. Although we are in one of the last areas to see a return to live music performances, it appears to be back to stay. I have frequently been out and about on the scene lately, soaking in all that I can. I have seen the excitement, both in those returning to the stage and those watching and listening. It is a beautiful thing to see on both sides. Early next month will be our turn to join in the festivities, almost two years since our last shows, which occurred during the first false start.
My brain is working overtime, trying to remember everything that goes into this, things that used to be so routine that they didn’t require any special thought. Promotional stuff, setlists, strings, batteries – where does one begin? Guitars need to be set up. Equipment needs to be tested. My live rig hasn’t even been switched on in 21 months. How do I know it isn’t just going to blow up? Do I even know where everything is? How did I last have my pedals configured? Will I remember how to play all of the songs without relearning them from scratch and possibly losing a lot of the nuances that made them fun to play in the first place?
So much to think about and yet I know that I’m overthinking all of it. It’s only nervous excitement and I just have to take a deep breath and know that everything will fall into place as it almost always does. Great times ahead my friends…
INDY ROCK BLOG #164
By Matt Toews
Sitting at home, the news on in the background, trying to figure out when we can get back to rehearsing. Never mind, shelving ideas of touring, postponing shows or other short-term plans that build the dream beyond the riffs, beyond the harmonies, the tracks the mixes the masters – shelving all the energy that makes up the total effort behind unleashing new music.
It is easy to get lost in these thoughts – especially now – pulled into a whirlwind of worry and doubt, mix another ration of rum & coke while listening to the masters, reminiscing on what could have been.
We, at one time or another, have subscribed to the dream of making it big and living the life of album cycle/release/tour for 2 years/repeat. As local bands, we still aspire to this cycle by applying this model to emulate our favorite acts and make a CD Release the BIG DEAL. We spend on the recording, the duplication, the merch, the venue and do everything we can to run out of tickets for the BIG DAY. It feels great when you have a good show on the BIG DAY and sell some copies of the BIG DEAL and a few t-shirts to offset some of the production costs and you are excited to plan the upcoming tour to support the release.
Now that the tour is postponed without a rescheduled date to ease your mind, how do you move forward? We are facing a new normal, and we need to adapt. Everyone is facing this new normal – worrying about the next month of tomorrow’s while scanning the dregs of our favorite streaming service… One thing that we also have in common is we are spending time connecting ONLINE.
There are opportunities in front of us to really think outside the box and develop a sustainable interaction with our fan base. If someone is willing to come out to a show, we should think about how we can relate to them when we are all experiencing this isolated shift.
As musicians, we can stay motivated to keep creating. I’m sure we can all stand a little more time working on ideas while we practice social distancing.
WORK TOGETHER. Explore different ways to connect and write with each other – send audio texts, Facetime jams, Skype, use your DAW and send mp3’s via email – however will work best for all involved to build on the idea.
COLLABORATE with other artists – the digital world lends itself towards collaboration. The blending of styles or influences can inspire and lead to new directions in your own writing, while being exciting to the listeners.
SHARE. As often as you can. Share the writing journey on social media. Treat this like a digital journal of the writing process. We are all looking for content that is relevant to us – an anchor that ties us to what normal was. Do this to push yourself and your band. Do this for your fans and offer them something new and exciting while we can’t perform in our preferred manner.
YOU WON’T FUCK THIS UP. Do your best to share ideas through an unfiltered experience. Frustrations with results may come up. This is our opportunity to shine – change a riff, song structure – RE-WORK it and make it better. Some songs take time while others take no time at all – it totally depends on the circumstance of the members in the room.
SUPPORT EACH OTHER. Work collectively to find the best way forward. Be Constructive. It is more important than ever to remember how much MUSIC has pulled us through difficult times. SHARE and COMMENT, it’s time to cheer each other on.
I have used the last couple weeks to get back into recording at home. I’m pushing through my own insecurities to post both backlog snippets as well as current ideas. This push includes writing these ideas down and seeing if they make sense when I reread it later. Write for sanity’s sake – share for all our sakes. The biggest opportunity that this new normal offers the chance is to come together as a community of writers, to create some killer music. The local scene will be stronger because of it.
Matt Toews is Bassist for
& Owner of
. A multi-instrumentalist who writes soundscapes, rock, metal and continues to explore diverse styles of music.
INDY ROCK BLOG #163
By Paul Denton
Well here we go. We almost left on time so no complaints so far. We have our wives with us for this trip so we have to be on our best behavior. Of course that will only last until we crack the tequila. We are musicians after all. It’s a long road ahead, lots of time too think about the early years, thoughts of tonight’s show, listening to awesome tunes and conversation.
The venue was really good. Big room with a decent size stage. The owner and staff were really accommodating which helped the long journey well worth it.
I believed we learned a few lessons from this trip. One thing for sure we are not kids anymore and the travel was tough on the rhythm section. I was pleased to not have been rushed to arrive as every hour we had to make a pitstop. The old body is definitely feeling it today. I’m personally not sure how long I have left in the tank to do this, but much appreciate my bandmates for supporting and pushing me. It was nice to have our wives take care of our hair and makeup and super stoked to have a Reiki session performed on my hands before and after the show. If we could have this kind of pampering for every show it could possibly lengthen my performing longevity.
All in all, it was great to play Saskatoon after almost 40 years. In some strange way it felt really special. I think our wives may now realize that what we do is not all fun and game as they slept most of the way home. Looking forward to playing Fernie Alpine Resort in two weeks as I’m sure new lessons will be learned.
Enjoy your travels and stay safe out there my friends.
INDY ROCK BLOG #162
By Johnny Fast
How do you keep things interesting? Over the last couple years with no live venues to play at this has been tough but we managed. Writing a new album and getting most of the way through recording definitely helped. I picked up writing and wrote two short stories on our previous albums.
One new challenge we are tackling is to build out our set list and recall songs from older albums. With the completion of our new unreleased album, we will have written and recorded 51 songs in total. We sat down recently and picked the songs we want to remember from each album, as keeping sharp on 51 songs is not a reasonable task while at the same time planning to write more. We picked what we thought were our best and most popular songs from each album and are relearning them so we have a solid set list and available show-ready songs.
If you have ever attempted to relearn an old song, especially after not playing it for a couple years, you will know how challenging this can be. It's amazing how fast the details disappear and learning it again involves listening meticulously through the songs, breaking down the parts and trying to remember how the heck you played them. It's a good task for us as suddenly those old songs that had been left by the wayside for newer material, have a new energy and intensity that they had maybe lost before.
One thing we thought while picking these songs, was that we should definitely know any song that we have a video for. If someone plans to go to your show and researches the band a little, they are going to see your videos. If they go to the show and you don't play any of those songs, it's kind of a bummer. Anyway, it's been fun and challenging and added some interest to practice instead of playing the same 12 songs every week.
INDY ROCK BLOG #161
By Pete Zilinski
I’d like to start my blog this week with a brief mention of what is going on in Ukraine. As the grandson of an immigrant from Ukraine I can’t help but feel saddened by what I see happening over there. My heart goes out to those affected both directly and indirectly whether through friends or family. I am filled with awe at the strength and resolve of the people of Ukraine. Their sheer determination to fight for their freedom and their country. By no means do I want to compare the crisis in Ukraine to what we have here in Canada, I just think that there is a lesson in resilience and determination. to be learned for all of us.
This brings me to the main idea for this blog. When relating to this philosophy of determination. In terms of music and in particular the type of music that is represented by Indy Rock Network, I can’t help but feel that at times you metal and rock musicians are fighting for recognition and existence in this hip hop and pop culture. We all know that mastering an instrument, finding like-minded people and investing countless hours and finances has its positive and negative outcomes. What I have seen is an absolute love of creating and performing music. I am inspired by the musicians that I have followed through this network. Honestly, I’m blown away by how much talent these bands have shown. And to my friend and fellow musician Tom Bland, thank you for creating this network and allowing all of these bands to have a forum to share their music. Sometimes hard work and determination does pay off!
Stay strong, Keep rockin’
INDY ROCK BLOG #160
By Les Mitchell
While writing last month’s blog about listening to previous recordings, I began to laugh hysterically to myself about certain aspects of the sonic process. I was mainly thinking about the perennial struggle of our drummer. He is also our trusted audio leader, heavily invested in the production whether we are recording or performing live. He lives in the land of frequency and hears things in a way that most do not. This is a blessing in that he’s great at what he does, but also a curse because of what the rest of us have put him and his ears though.
As a band, we had always set out to make as much noise as possible so we had a ridiculous number of pedals routed to different amps but we didn’t necessarily understand the frequency spectrum as it pertains to music. Added to this is that all of the cables and connections can create noise in the signal chains and pedals don’t always interact in the most aurally pleasant of ways. During that first jam with our new drummer more than a dozen years ago, I can still picture that pained expression on his face as he was bombarded with every audio frequency known to humans. I’m surprised he didn’t just immediately get up and walk away, but he stuck around and has been slowly reigning us in ever since. We have learned a lot from him and he has developed a sense of humour about these issues, perhaps as a coping mechanism. I have this Marshall amp that will wait for about 10 seconds after it’s turned on, then goes through this brief cycle where it sounds like an airplane taking off. It never fails to get a chuckle out of him.
Of course, everything is magnified in the recording studio. Our tracks that were recorded previously sounded okay when listened to together. When listened to separately, there are just so many random hisses and hums embedded on those tracks, it’s easy to hear how we have been tormenting him for years. Now he will isolate them for us to listen to, we will have a good laugh, and he will tell us that he doesn’t want to hear those noises ever again. We make an effort to improve our sounds going in and try again. He has been a saint of patience and is getting through to us. For his sake and his sanity, I wish we’d fully understood his struggle sooner. It’s all a process…
INDY ROCK BLOG #159
By Paul Denton
There are many different ways of promoting our band today. How important is it to you and your band? I’m sure everyone’s intentions are to put forward the best package they can and we now have more tools to use than ever before. Do we rely on photo shoot, video or social media? Promo for a band can be as big as you want it to be, but for me the best way of promoting is playing solid live shows.
I’ve spent the last while following some of the bands on our Network and checking out some of your promotional ideas. The one thing that always seemed to jump out and make me want to dig deeper into a band would be the photo shoot. This at one time was our only tool available so it got me thinking of its importance today, and how we all feel about posing in front of a camera. I guess this is when we need to think about the style of music and image we are trying to put forth. I’ve seen great photoshoots some with just studio backdrops, props or out in the environment. Do we look for a serious pose or more to the lighter side? Digital photography has advanced and improved this experience in many ways we never had before.
I wish we had digital tools for some of my early photo shoots as this topic made me dig into my memorabilia. I look back on some of these photo shoots and wonder “what the hell was I thinking. The old porn Stache days and clothing. Wow! Definitely missed the mark. I’ve had musicians tell me of cutting members out of the shoot and taping it back together for whatever reason.
However you choose to do your photo shoot I can only say, make it fun. Fashion changes and one day you may look back and shake your head. Just remember at that moment, at that time it was a special memory
You can be proud of and laugh at the same time.
INDY ROCK BLOG #158
By Johnny Fast
We just finished up another studio session as we continue to work on our 5th full length album. Is it starting to get old? Not a chance! I think we have more fun every time. The night was full of music, laughter and maybe a slight headache later. We were able to finish up the bass and rythym guitars and a little vocals.
For those of you reading who have never done a studio recording, generally it's done in layers. We start with the whole band playing through the songs together but all we are really focusing on is the drums and getting them perfect and in line with a click track. Everything else is a scratch track as it will be re recorded later. Then we do the bass, then rythym guitars, then lead guitars, then vocals and finally all the extras including effects and back up vocals etc. Every musician is doing their best to have a perfect performance. That's the easy part, the mixing is usually the longest tedious part filled with mixes and re mixes and more re mixes until everyone agrees it's as good as it can be. Then off to mastering, art work and a host of other jobs.
The other part of the studio is 4 guys and our friend at The Sound Castle, having the chance to hang out and immerse ourselves in the music and the project that has been building for 2 to 3 years. It's definitely work and lots of concentration but at the same time it's what you love so it doesn't seem so much like work. We can't wait for you to hear the final product because every project seems better than the last!
INDY ROCK BLOG #157
By Pete Zilinski
Down the Rabbit Hole
There I was last evening, trying to create a new tune in my studio. I’m laying down a bit of rhythm guitar and all of a sudden I’m in creative limbo! Where the hell do I go from here? You know what I mean, I’m drawing a blank and if I force it, my fear is that I will just start repeating something that I’ve already recorded at a different time.
And then it hits me, like the cartoon at the bottom of this page, I wish that I had spent more time learning music theory. Maybe that could stimulate the creative juices! Well, no sense in wasting time worrying about the past. So, I did what every self-respecting musician would do, I turned to YouTube. And down the rabbit hole I went.
Like most musicians I find YouTube an undeniably great source of never ending ideas. Now I’m sure that everyone has their favorite sites that they gravitate towards, but in this case I was looking for something new. Just for kicks I type in “Phrygian Riffing” and low and behold I end up at Signals Music Studio. Now we’re getting somewhere! I stumble across a video that says you should use Morse Code as a means of creating the meter for a song. If you have not tried this method of writing and would like to see it, the video is located at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSSAJ0goWiE&t=816s
I have to admit that I was truly amazed at how much inspiration I gained from this one short video. This led to all sorts of creative ideas. And so after spending most of the evening creating with fresh ideas, I finally felt that I made a descent little tune.
Stay Safe and Warm!
Indy Rock Network
INDY ROCK BLOG #156
By Les Mitchell
It’s been quite some time since we have done any intense recording or mixing sessions, at least the kind where the goal has been to release a full album length recording. What we do have are six or seven songs in various degrees of completion. It is easy to forget about something that you haven’t heard in a while so it’s always interesting to revisit these works in progress with fresh ears and perhaps a new perspective. I recently did just this as I went to our drummer’s studio, most of all to visit, but we had a couple of cold ones and decided to explore one of our recordings that he had been working on.
Opening up one of our working songs is an adventure in itself. You might be staring at 64 separate tracks of audio, some of which may have been recorded last week and others that might have been done years ago. After getting reacquainted with the song and overall arrangement, you begin to hear the individual parts and this is where fresh perspective enters the equation. Listening to one’s own parts after time away can reaffirm its very existence or it can lead to comical discussion and self deprecating reactions like:
“What was I thinking? That doesn’t work. Let’s just get rid of it”
“I don’t even remember recording that”
“I have a much better part for this section”
There is the excitement of experiencing a new mix or hearing someone else’s parts for the first time if something had been redone or added recently. There is also the disappointment of not being able to find a part that you loved and clearly remember recording. At that point, you must resign yourself to the possibility of that part only ever existing in your imagination…
INDY ROCK BLOG #155
By Paul Denton
New Years Reflections
Well here we are heading into a New Year. I’m sure a lot of us take time to start planning our summer tours and hoping our industry will be stronger than the past. For me I take this time to reflect on the past and think about the things that got me to where I am today. For some strange reason I’ve been thinking about my travels and adventures, and still can’t believe I’m still doing this after so many years. Truly grateful.
I remember mostly of the vehicles we travelled in that got us to so many places, some reliable and some not so. Some of the best times were the old school bus travels. Once your band purchased an old school bus or greyhound we believed we had made it. Having your gear loaded in the back and if you were really lucky , bunkbeds, or pods we would call them, you were able to hit the road without a care. No fulltime job to think about because this was our job. Living young and free without a care and building camaraderie with your bandmates. If you had a road crew to do the driving that was the cats ass but if not for some strange reason in my experience it would always be the drummer who took the wheel. Why was this? Here’s a chance for the drummers to enlighten us with the facts!
Every week after a long drive and after we would settle into our hotel I would call my parents and have them guess our location. Collect call of course. They would pull out the map and follow our travels. I believe they enjoyed the excitement and game we played from week to week. Definitely one of my fondest memories.
I remain grateful for the opportunity music has given me , in travelling across the country and to places I would have never had the chance to visit otherwise.
That’s my New Years Reflections. Now it’s time to think to the future. Wishing everyone a busy year and safe travels, wherever they my take you.
INDY ROCK BLOG #154
By Johnny Fast
It's the new year and time to make another year of plans. For us, we prefer to be home during the deepest winter months but stay busy behind the scenes. Now is the time we start planning the spring tour and looking at summer festivals etc. There's always a two to three month window to book shows so we don't want to sleep through the winter and wake up in spring with nothing booked. We are also continuing the recording process of our next album. This will be our fifth and recording resumes in less than two weeks. By the time this one is completed, we'll have recorded 51 songs. It feels like an accomplishment to have a deep library of music to draw from. We've been thinking about bringing some old tunes back into rotation. Exciting times but as we get this one down, my mind is already ahead on new concept ideas, new riffs and ideas for the future. As we just went through a three week cold snap here, I've been listening to lots of different music and that always gets the creative juices flowing but one thing at a time right? Like booking shows, I prefer to be thinking two or three moves ahead at all times. It's good to be a dreamer. That's kind of how we all got roped into this musician lifestyle in the first place.
INDY ROCK BLOG #153
By Tom Bland
Just My Opinion
I keep things pretty positive and unpolitical usually with Indy Rock Network but this blog will be a little different. In Canada we have entered another major lockdown. I have been following some high profile doctors over the last little while and all have been saying even with high case numbers that hospitalizations and deaths from covid and it’s variants have basically flatlined. I, personally have done everything asked of me. I’m vaxed, boostered yet my life is no different than two years ago.
The music industry has been hit hard by mandates, bands, venues and businesses in general are being punished for what. Taxes, rent, bills, still keep coming in while we are shut down and our government fires health care workers for not getting immunized yet it was OK for these same people to go into work when Covid was at it’s worst. What the fuck is going on!
It’s time to open up (causiously), doctors are saying it, stats are showing it, what else can people and businesses do. Protect our seniors and people with health or immune issues and get people back to work.
To all the musicians and venues etc. thank you for hanging in there and doing your part to protect yourself and others. I hope you get out the other side of this in reasonable shape and continue in the journey you started. Don’t forget to be considerate of others even if you may not agree with the direction they have chosen, it’s OK to have different opinions. I personally haven’t changed, friends have always been welcome in my house, vaxed, unvaxed it’s time we need to push on.
Again, just my humble opinion.
INDY ROCK BLOG #152
By Les Mitchell
Here we are in 2022 already and what a strange trip it has been so far in the 20’s! I remember writing the milestone 100th blog for Indy Rock and now I get to kick off the New Year. It has been a pleasure to be part of the team with Tom, Sandra, Pete, Paul, and Johnny and to watch this network grow and spread its wings worldwide. I wish the best in 2022 to all of our amazing artists and followers. May this never ending nightmare come to a swift end for us all!
My pre-Christmas optimism, while certainly valid at the time, turned out to be premature. It looked like we were on the path to bigger events and some stage openings for New Year’s Eve, but most events had to be cancelled yet again. Our band didn’t have anything booked but we likely would have gone out to enjoy some live music somewhere. Instead, we took the opportunity to have a small gathering of our own and we just hung out. Even in normal times when we aren’t gigging together on this occasion, some of us are usually playing in other lineups, so the chance to get together and enjoy each other’s company this year was fantastic. With just the right combination of potent potables and sonic ambience, we were in tears of laughter in no time. We are very different characters and we agree to disagree on a great many subjects, but it makes everything that much more fun. As we often do into the wee hours, we regaled each other with all kinds of wild stories and memories and teased each other like brothers. Nights like that make me grin from ear to ear and remind me why I wouldn’t want to be in this band with anyone else…
INDY ROCK BLOG #151
By Paul Denton
If being a musician was easy I believe everyone would become one. Taking a look from the outside may seem like it’s all fun and games and one big party. As we all know there is much more too this than just having fun. For most of us it is an obsession of sharing our dreams ,passion and creativity too whomever may take notice. I can only speak of the experience and sacrifice I have made over the past 40 years of this rollercoaster ride as a musician. I often think back to the day’s of playing six nights a week thousands of miles travelled and think how was this possible. Being young and free was a great time but as we get older with more responsibility the sacrifice that we once gave becomes harder to commit too.
Fast forward to present times and I now am starting to realize what I can and cannot commit to. Winter months for me are tough to play with the arthritis in my hands and I’m finding it hard to play a Friday show after a long work week. Travel also takes it’s toll on the body. These are just a few things that I need to work out for myself if I plan on continuing to perform. By no means am I ready to pack things in just yet, but I feel in order to continue I may have to make some difficult decisions. I am fortunate to be in a band with people that understand and support each other, so it will be easier to work out a plan that works as we all struggle with age. The drive and passion are still there but the sacrifice needs to change.
Wishing all the bands a healthy productive 2022
INDY ROCK BLOG #150
By Johnny Fast
Feels good to have a couple good under our belt heading into the holidays. That's two better than last year! The shows went well both in the attendance and the performance. I felt as a band we played great though I always assesses my individual performance. The show in Edmonton I felt that everything was loose and flowing. I didn't have to think about anything and everything came easy. There was hardly a mistake. The next show, though I thought my playing was fine, I did feel like I had to work for it. Sometimes you're just in your own head and concentrating too much on not making mistakes that you forget to relax! About half way through the set I finally loosened up and then really started playing. Whatever the reasons, any musician should know that every night can be different and you may have to battle in your head to find your Zen. Whether it's nerves, something isn't quite right during set up or the sound isn't perfect on stage, you have to find a way to stop listening to yourself and listen to the band as a whole. I find if we get to the venue early and have to wait for several other bands to play, it's almost too much anticipation. I don't really get nerves but I am excited to play and that excitement if too drawn out can drag me down a little. Almost like the trail end of a caffeine or sugar rush. Knowing how I operate is key in how I prepare for the show to maximize the performance. Once I am able to take my focus off of myself and listen to the music, I find that's when it really comes together!
INDY ROCK BLOG #149
By Pete Zilinski
I would like to start off this blog with a talk about all that old gear that keeps filling up my recording space. Now it may be that other musicians are not the same as me and can part with the old gear. I on the other hand still have my Fostex 4-track cassette recorder stashed away. And then there is the Fostex digital 8-track, the Tripledat sound card, the Creamware soundcard, the Fostex 16 track digital recorder, the Dat recorder and of course Pro Tools 7,8 and 10hd along with the 6 old mac pro computers that were used to run each of these. Sometimes I tally up the thousands of dollars that each of these units initially cost and just get depressed about how little monetary value they have today. This is not to say that I wouldn’t do it all over again, it just bugs me a little that some of these items were extremely effective units, but of course were offered no support from the manufacturer shortly after their release. It is very much like the cell phone marketing today. Seriously why do you need a new cell phone every 6 months!
Recently I have been having issues with my Digidesign control 24 console and it has become painful to record anything. It turns out that a couple of capacitors on the power supply are fried. Now, I’m thinking, how bad could that be, just replace the caps and get back up and running. Hold on though, the manufacturer did not release the schematic diagram for this unit or any of the specs for the components. Here is the dilemma, do I toss out the console that cost $10,000.00 because I can’t find a 2 dollar capacitor? Or is it time to move on again and buy a whole new rig.
It’s unfortunate that recording gear is not like guitars and amplifiers that increase in value the older they get. I’m glad that I have hung on to all the old gear and especially the guitars and amps. I still use my Tom Scholz Power Soak on my Marshall to achieve great tone and gain without making my ears bleed. Okay that’s enough ranting for now! Keep rocking!
INDY ROCK BLOG #148
By Les Mitchell
I’ve recently expressed my profound joy at being able to perform again, albeit in smaller gatherings. I’ve also been fortunate to attend other such events purely to relax and be entertained by bandmates and friends. I must confess that I’m very much an astute observer of human behaviour, i.e. a people watcher. Lately, I’ve been writing mostly about what it’s been like to be a musician in an indie rock band during these lean times, but I’ve wondered what it has been like from the perspective of a pure fan of live music. Of course, I consider myself a huge fan of music and I’ve missed going to live shows of all shapes and sizes, but in the absence of that, I’ve at least been able to fill some of that void by rocking out at home or jamming with the boys. What if I didn’t have that outlet?
I’m always interested in the reactions of our own audiences as that information can be used to plan things for the future, but lately I’ve been even more curious as to how people would respond to the return of live music in general. Some of these recent scaled down events have given me the opportunity to study this very question. Of course I can only provide anecdotal evidence as it is only based on my perceptions and observations, but there seems to be an increased appetite for live music and musicians. Perhaps the sheer numbers have yet to fully return but the level of engagement appears to be stronger with more interaction between the performer and listener, which is really what is important – that connection. I’ve really sensed a mutual appreciation for us all to be back together in those settings. Hopefully that’s not entirely wishful thinking on my part, but I’ll continue to observe intently as the events get bigger and louder…
INDY ROCK BLOG #147
By Paul Denton
How often? How important? And how seriously do we feel about the dreaded band meeting! Just a few questions I would like to put to everyone. Often this is something we can consider to be a bad omen. Someone calls a meeting and we all fear the worst. As shocking as this maybe it is not always the out come we had feared. Whether the band consist of two musicians or more, there maybe different opinions, but remember reaching the same goal is unanimous.
It’s hard to think of a meeting when things are going well and the band is playing shows but what we sometimes forget are the real everyday lives that we all have to face, which may have an impact and attitude toward our musical family. This is an individual business that we all strive to build. It’s really tough sometimes to separate your family from your music. More so nowadays as all the bookings and promotion has been thrust upon us. This to me is why "The Meeting" is important.
This gives us the chance to reconnect on a personal level and if need be, delegate responsibility. This is the time when every voice shall be heard and documented for further discussions. Remember if your opinion isn’t top of the list, take it like water off a ducks back. It maybe number one at the next meeting.
The only thing I can add to this would be “We are family that may fight, disagree, but truly love the excitement that we all bring to the stage. Every member of the band has a voice. If The Meeting is not for your situation then I can only suggest a simple pat on the back from time to time will be sufficient.
INDY ROCK BLOG #146
By Johnny Fast
Well we got a show in the books. Our first live show since November 2019, two years ago! We were excited to play of course but didn't realize how much we missed it. From the road trip up to Edmonton, the set up and performance, the hotel and the tired trip home the next day, it was all great! We were able to play with a great band from Edmonton, Buried Beneath (check them out) and of course make some great connections. That's one thing about playing live is the contacts and connections that you make networking. Whether it's a big or small show, we always leave with a few new opportunities, new fans and another band that we hope to cross paths with again on our musical journey. It was a great show and there were no nerves which I was surprised about being how long its been. I think the feeling of the stage was so good that the adrenaline carried us right through and we played a near flawless performance. We met a nice old guy who may have been slightly intoxicated though gave us a legendary post show speech. "He was born in 1948, the same year as Ozzy and Alice Cooper. They started this whole f'ing thing and we are continuing it. They would be proud!" As ridiculous as this may sound, it's not entirely wrong. We are all keeping this thing going, rock and roll, and whether we are in a big successful band or just playing a few times a year or maybe you're the person rocking out in the front row, we're all a part of this!
INDY ROCK BLOG #145
By Tom Bland
I think everyone needs to take a step back and look at what social media has become. Lots of great things take place on these sites especially on the music sites, musicians helping other musicians, open conversations and generally constructive ideas. I think we as musicians look at things a little differently than some other groups, as overall, we don’t get involved with the bickering and attacks towards “the other side”. Basically, if you don’t have anything nice to say keep it to yourself. This is a good thing as we see more and more groups siding up and refusing to interact positively towards the others. We need to set the example for some of these groups on how to respect others and not letting the perspectives of others get between us. I know a lot of musicians since Indy Rock Network began and I’ve seen firsthand that musicians, for the most part tend not to get obsessed with trivial shit getting blown out of proportion on their sites and this is what makes musicians awesome. We as a group focus on what’s important, music.
Anyone that is struggling with stress created by different social media or just media outlets take a step back, avoid these divisive groups and focus on what is important, family, music, sports, whatever your thing might be. And don’t let these groups use your interests to be a breeding ground for division, don’t forget you can shut them off! We are all in this thing called life together and none of us is getting out of it alive, be nice and think of others “life is short”.
Indie musicians will always lead the way as we have all had struggles and almost always had some help from a friend along the way, who generally is another musician.
Keep Well Friends
INDY ROCK BLOG #144
By Les Mitchell
Since my last writing, I’ve finally had the opportunity to perform again for the first time in well over a year, not once but twice! The first was for a function that had already hired another full band as the main event. I set out to put together an acoustic group to go on afterwards and carry things to the end. Naturally, my recruits included a couple of my band boys and we prepared a bunch of stripped down tunes for the gig. This wasn’t meant to be an 18 rabbit show at all but the rock gods must have been working their magic. In the days and hours leading up to the event, the other band on the bill found themselves shorthanded and enlisted the services of the 18 rabbit rhythm section. By strange circumstance, we were all to end up at the same event! I think it was just meant to be all along, but after the first band finished, it didn’t take a whole lot of discussion to decide on the fly to join the rhythm section with our acoustic ensemble and just go for it. Essentially, we had the whole band back together and then some. We were using acoustic guitars but we played it with the energy of a rock show and it felt amazing. Of course, I would have preferred standing in front of my Marshalls pinned to 11, but this was just what I needed to feel like myself again and all of my boys were there with me. I’m sure that our grins were noticeable from the back of the room.
The second event for me was also acoustic and stripped down to a duo, but also a riot. Again, there was another band, in this case a trio consisting of another 18 rabbit guy, a character that often joins me at acoustic gigs (including the previously mentioned duo and super ensemble), and a member of the other band from the first event. Can anyone follow all of this?
Man it’s just great to perform and talk about this stuff again…
INDY ROCK BLOG #143
By Paul Denton
Stiff Upper Lip
Well it wasn’t too long ago I talked about being back in the game. Ha, that didn’t last long. Once again dates have to be dropped not just for us but many of you as well. How many times can a musician be knocked down before you realize its time to call it a day. I’ve survived many tough times over the years but nothing like what we face today. I truly feel for the younger bands trying to make their mark in this industry. In no way am I trying to sound negative, definitely frustrated, because at my age realizing my playing days are closer to the end, I really don’t want to end it like this.
Like most of us now have experienced, we book the dates, look forward to them and hope they don’t get cancelled. In some way we have to be more aware of what is happening in other provinces before we book our dates. Another concern is are the fans feeling comfortable in coming out to support us! There are so many things that play into what effects us today and I must say I am thankful for all the support and encouragement we all share.
For the rest of this year our band have dates booked in Regina, Calgary and Edmonton. Hoping to finish off this year with no more cancellations would be amazing.
As we have all been affected by this and share the same pain and frustration, I can only suggest keep a Stiff Upper Lip and if next year is better, Knock’ Em Dead Kid.
INDY ROCK BLOG #142
By Johnny Fast
I haven't been able to say that in almost two years. Our last show was November 2019, last decade. We've of course stayed as busy as we could writing, recording and practicing. Taking any opportunity we could along the way but this Saturday is what it's all about! Time to string the guitars. Time to rehearse like you mean it and polish those spots that seem to always give you trouble so that in the performance they are as close to perfect as possible. It doesn't matter though. Of course I want to have a flawless performance but I've learned to live with mistakes and to see the band's performance and the show as a whole. We expect to have some nerves though that will turn to excitement and the feeling afterwards will be euphoric. This Wednesday night we will have our last practice before the show. We'll go through the set list, talk about the places to pause, the effects we are going to use, the clothes we will wear, how many people we expect to show up, times to meet, pack and set up and what we should eat before. Most likely tavern chicken fingers, fries and beer of course. A perfectly balanced meal for a rock star. Let's go!
INDY ROCK BLOG #141
By Pete Zilinski
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about live shows or the apparent lack of them. I know that we all miss playing, performing and getting out to see live bands. With that in mind, I drifted off to a time in the past where we did perform and see live acts. I got to thinking about some of the great shows that I’ve had the good fortune of seeing. Remember that first Kiss show in 1975, the arena was buzzing with energy. Or how about Kamelot at the Garrick Centre or Evergrey at the Pyramid Cabaret, with guests Dark Mourning. Such a great night!
Then there was the BB King show at the Centennial concert hall, with Colin James. Oh, and I saw Duke Ellington there too. A show that took your breath away. The improvisational skills that night were out of this world. I’ve seen the Winnipeg Symphony and the Vienna Strauss Orchestra there too. It makes me wonder where my taste in music lies. The truth is, my first love is progressive and melodic metal, after that it’s pretty much anything goes.
Let’s see, who else , Rush, Megadeth, Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush, Pink Floyd, Queensryche, BTO, Supertramp and so on. Many of these acts inspired me to play and write music. I can’t imagine what the world would be like without both the big shows and the night club acts. Some of the best shows that I have been to were in small venues. Up close and intimate, what a rush!
It begs the question, who inspired you to take up an instrument and start playing? And although I am getting a little long in the tooth, I have never lost that same feeling of euphoria when playing that I had the first time we set foot on a stage.
Can’t wait to get back at it, and see all the great bands out there. Especially those that are in rotation on Indy Rock Network!
INDY ROCK BLOG #140
By Les Mitchell
I often get asked how I became such a dyed in the wool rocker. My quick answer is that it happened at a very young age. It’s not like I was exposed to that much rock and roll in the household. Growing up on a farm more often than not sentences one to a lifetime of country music. That isn’t to say that is a bad thing, it’s just not my thing. Whatever bits of rock I did hear quickly and completely resonated within this kid and it turned into a full and lifelong obsession. Hearing and seeing someone play an electric guitar signalled to me that this was all I wanted to do in life. During yet another recent garage clean up, I came across a very nostalgic box of childhood possessions. One of the finds was a handwritten school project of mine. Since I date everything, a quick glance at the top corner told me that I wrote this at the age of 12 and it was entitled “Heavy Metal”. I read through my own words with great amusement – my 12 year old self writing an essay on the history of heavy metal. I could tell by my writing that I took the topic very seriously and was totally fixated. There were sketches of guitars in the page margins and this was before I even had a guitar – I just knew that I needed one. The box also contained drawings of band logos and rock memorabilia that I made out of whatever materials were available. Among the many revelations was that I had a special affinity for all things Iron Maiden. It was an interesting journey into the mind of a kid that had not yet become a teenager, but was totally awestruck by the immense power of rock and roll. Equally interesting as I write this today, is that not a damn thing has changed…
INDY ROCK BLOG #139
By Paul Denton
Bass Players Forum
Like every player out there I’ve always been intrigued with tone and the raw power of what the Bass can bring to a band. We can get into so many discussions about pickup’s, strings and hardware just to name a few, but we’ll leave that for another time. I would however like to discuss what if any are we using for effects and what is the most popular to date. I really enjoy talking to other player’s about gear and what their experiences have been, so please feel free to contribute to this blog.
Pedalboards, are they needed or not? Years ago I used a small board but ended up liking the sound better just from my bass and cabinets. I still prefer to keep things simple but every so often it’s kind of fun to experiment. The one thing I regret is not keeping up with technology, and so this is why I’m interested in hearing from fellow players as to your thoughts on pedalboard effects, why you use them and how do they contribute to your sound?
One of the bands I play for requires me to use Taurus pedals and keyboards, and I must admit I suck at keyboards, so this has got me thinking about how I can eliminate the keys in search of a pedal or board.
As I’m slowly fading out the keyboards I’ve come to realize I can play those parts much better on my bass and Taurus pedals. Here is where my search begins. I’m basically looking for a Bass synth pedal to give me the effect I need for a few of our tunes. Thanks to YouTube we are able to gain information that helps us out before purchasing. So this is my challenge for now. It’s always exciting and inspiring when we discover something new that helps propel our playing to another level. I look forward to hearing your Bass stories and experiences and what has worked best for you.
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INDY ROCK BLOG #138
By Johnny Fast
The tour is the pinnacle of performing. Not a one off but a string of shows over some distance. Of course there are many different degrees of this though in whatever capacity, this gives the feeling for most of us of what it would be like to do this for a living! After the first couple shows you become honed in, the nerves are gone and you find the band playing tighter than ever before. The playing is secondary as you don't even have to think about it and all that matters is the performance.
This tour still hangs precariously in the balance with restrictions being threatened again but we book the shows and hope for the best. The rest is out of our control. What we can control is the preparation. Deciding the set list and the flow of the show. Practicing the songs in the order and tying them together in clusters. Remembering how to play older songs that you plan to revive. It's normal to get caught up in writing and practicing new material and the older songs gather dust. The live show usually features new songs but also some favorites from past albums. It's amazing how quickly you can forget how to play a certain guitar solo!
Anyway, we are excited to hit the road and have a boys trip. Rock out, stay up late, load gear, drink beer, have a tired breakfast and get back in the vehicle. Always a lot of laughs and a feeling of accomplishment when it's all said and done.
INDY ROCK BLOG #137
By Tom Bland
Just An Observation:
A lot of bands are very responsible at doing their due diligence when it comes to planning and promotion of their band. I see some bands attention mostly on individual topics like gigs or recording. This is still a good thing but a lot of little things can make all the difference in the world. Social media is an incredible thing, like it or not, it’s a necessary evil in today’s music. Anything and everything you can do to get your name, logo or photo out there is nothing but a bonus no matter how big or small. We have a few bands associated with Indy Rock Network that for whatever reason don’t share or even acknowledge our existence. It’s free, it’s helpful and again, it’s just a little more promotion for you and your fellow bands. So use us to promote your band and support other bands, don’t be afraid to network by sharing or commenting on us or other bands, it all helps.
Back on point, I see bands plan gigs which again is great but sometimes these gigs are few and far between. Some bands come out of a gig with very few promotional photos etc. Make the best of these opportunities, get lots of photos and video if possible (if it’s fairly decent). In the upcoming days and weeks after a gig feed your social media outlets with this new material. Your fans love this shit. Do your best to do anything to make your show more professional. A little example of one of those little things, how many bands have you seen where no drum riser is used. I see it more and more, like I say the small things can make a difference even if it seems trivial. There are lots of little things, don’t be a pylon, even small continuous movements get noticed, don’t tune on stage and less chatter/banter with the crowd, you are great musicians and performers, let that be the proof.
Just my opinion, do what you feel is best for your band! Just always strive to be better on stage and off. You got this!
P.S. Again thanks for all your support, we truly appreciate it.
Next week Johnny Fast’s monthly blog.
INDY ROCK BLOG #136
By Les Mitchell
Where there was darkness, there is now light. I wish not to jinx anything but a dim and promising light began to appear a short time ago and has since continued to brighten and enlighten. What I’m referring to of course, is the long anticipated return of live music performances. It’s not all systems go as there have been some false starts and cancellations happening all over this big blue marble. Rather than everything starting with a bang, it seems like more of a slow burn to normalcy, or perhaps a different kind of normal. It is very encouraging to see music being performed in any capacity – I cannot imagine a life without it. The end of summer has seen some music festivals taking place in the prairies and I am aware of smaller gatherings that revolved around the appearance of musicians doing what they love – oh the joy!
Our drummer has already done a couple of summer shows with his other gig. Our bass player has been doing a few fill-ins with another group. Among those recent appearances was at one of those annual small town festivals. I went on a road trip with our other guitar player to check it out. It was our first glimpse of live music in over a year. Upon downbeat, we just looked at each other and smiled and nodded. Finally, everything seemed right with the world again. Our enjoyment quickly turned to an overwhelming feeling of wanting to be up there on stage, doing our thing, but we both went home happy and he ended up doing a spontaneous acoustic show a few days later. That leaves me as the only one in the group that has yet to reappear on a stage in a long while. I know that my time will come soon and the four of us can pick up right where we left off last summer, when we ushered in the first return of our live music scene and the beginning of its second hiatus all in the same weekend. Here’s hoping that the second return has more staying power than the first…
INDY ROCK BLOG #135
By Paul Denton
Meet the Band
I once penned an appreciation for all the road crew that have helped and supported me over the years and find it only fitting to mention how much appreciation I have for my bandmates. I think it’s easy to take for granted the talent you are surrounded by because we all get stuck into our craft and many times we may not actually speak of our appreciation of each other. Sure they are friends even like brothers and sisters but showing appreciation towards one and other from time to time can go a long way. With that being said, may I introduce to you my brothers.
DAVE: the multi- talented vocalist of our production company. So driven I so admire the excitement and commitment he brings. I had worked with Dave years ago and so happy he is back and helping support my musical journey. A true friend.
STEVE: in my opinion one of the finest drummers you could ever have. What this guy can do on a small kit is truly amazing. We all know that drummers are crazy and this tequila fed dude will not let you down. My road roomy and life friend.
BRYAN: every time this guy steps up to the plate he amazes us all with his true passion and mastery of his guitar.
Bryan and I followed each other on the road in the 80’s but never met. We finally met at an audition 5 years ago and have hit it off ever since. He often bugs me about being the old man in the band even though we are only a month apart. Such a sweet guy.
SHELDON: the newest member of the company is the guy that every band would want. An amazing guitar player, keyboard player and I guess the good looks as he’s 10 years or so younger. Sheldon has a masters in music education and runs his own studio www.hothousestudios.ca I would be honored to share the stage with this young guy for many years to come and look forward to building a lasting friendship.
ERIC: this kid can sing and perform. We bring Eric into our Live Wire part of the production. Talk about young guns this guy is firing on all cylinders. With a 30 year age difference Eric gives me the spirit and drive I once had at his age. A true pleasure and friendship. You can hear Eric’s vocal ability on the Indy Rock Network with his band Dextress.
So that’s it, the band. Its tough to find the perfect chemistry but when you do its priceless. So thank you Lads for being apart of the journey and many years of Rock N’ Roll success.
INDY ROCK BLOG #134
By Johnny Fast
We are back! With restrictions lifted in Saskatchewan and Alberta we are lining up shows again and keeping fingers crossed that everything will remain open through the fall. Live music venues have been really receptive and responsive and the dates are booked. We are excited to get back on the stage and the preparation has begun.
Although the first show is still two months away we have already narrowed down a set list and begun the conditioning process. We like to practice the set in the order and how it will be performed on stage. Usually we will group songs in three's and minimize any dead space as, in my opinion, the most annoying is when a band stops after every song and either tunes, makes needless noise on their instruments or talks amongst each other or way too long to an uninterested crowd. A meaningful pause is fine or a couple quick words and acknowledgment but generally it is very difficult to understand whatever long story or inside joke is being told over a muffled microphone. Also, the crowd generally doesn't care or have the attention span.
Professionalism is key. Soundcheck isn't the time to bang away or noodle on your guitar unless it's your turn with the sound tech. If you need to warm up, turn the volume down or use a drum pad. Watch any professional band during a live performance and most of the time the song ends and the lights go dark for a second, then lights come up and next song begins or there is a rehearsed moment of crowd interaction. Pretend you are entertaining toddlers and keep entertaining them! They bought tickets for music and energy, not story time.
We have also discussed the cardio/endurance of the live performance. Not having played for almost two years, there may be an adjustment to get back to stage shape, especially for vocalists. Remember how to breathe and pace yourself again. Practice all you want, and it helps, but nothing is the same as the live extra tension, nerves and excitement. It's easy to play harder, hold the guitar too tight, push your vocals differently and not play loose like you do in practice.
Anyway, it will all fall into place. Like riding a bike except really loud!
INDY ROCK BLOG #133
By Pete Zilinski
Will Rock and Metal Survive
It has become quite apparent to me that rock and metal music has fallen off the map in terms of mainstream availability. Now I’m not saying that it has disappeared totally, just that we don’t have the same mainstream acceptance as we used to in days past. There would have been a time when Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Van Halen and Boston were the flavor of the day. Now we have streaming services that offer a multitude of possibilities and social media is at the forefront in terms of getting your music out to the masses. Rock and metal have managed to survive disco, grunge, alternative and now the never ending stream of Disney girls.
In my opinion, part of the problem is in getting people to get out and enjoy some of the great music that is out there. As we begin to open up after this pandemic, I can only hope that people are hungry for live entertainment. This may be a biased opinion, but there are some absolutely awesome bands in central Canada as I’ve witnessed while helping to compile said bands on the Indy rock radio. My point is this, get out there and support your local musicians. This may be their only means of securing an income from their efforts.
Will rock and metal survive? I believe that it will. One thing is certain, rock and metal fans are die-hard fans. They may be a silent majority but they always stay true to the art.
INDY ROCK BLOG #132
By Les Mitchell
It’s very encouraging to see the return of live shows in many parts of the world. Even some of my fellow bloggers are returning to the stage and I love seeing that. Hopefully our turn isn’t far behind.
We’ve had a couple of rehearsals for the first time in what feels like an eternity. I’m sure we each had big grins on our faces as we all got lost in the sound. There was very little rust after such a long layoff, but that’s not necessarily surprising when you have the right band - the chemistry just reappears naturally.
At the suggestion of our drumming audio guru, we have entered a new era of rehearsal and it feels like a game changer. We’ve started playing through headphones. Being able to hear everyone so clearly and having smart device control of your own headphone mix got a two thumbs up from everyone in the group. The added benefit is that you don’t leave band practice feeling like you just spent three hours in front of the mains at a Motörhead concert. Practicing in a basement with everything turned up to 11 can be exhausting, usually for the neighbours as well. I enjoy being exhausted from a concert, but from a Monday night band practice, not so much. With the much quieter headphone mix, you can hear and feel the music tighten up immediately - so much so that it’s easy to envision us going to all in-ears when we go back to performing live.
Hopefully, that will be coming soon…
INDY ROCK BLOG #131
By Paul Denton
Back In The Game
July 3rd first rehearsal. It’s been far too long as the restrictions at least for now are fully lifted. A huge sigh of relief. The excitement and buzz around the music scene is beginning to rise again as I see bands advertising shows and posting more of what they are looking forward to doing again. Our first rehearsal was for a small show just to get our feet wet by playing a variety of cover tunes. I might add our Lad’s didn’t mind rehearsing in my 40 degree hot box of a garage as we plan to do again this weekend preparing for the rest of our summer schedule which begins July 23rd through to November.
If anyone remembers a past blog about The Check List, now is the time we all will be scrambling to get it together. I must say this time around I feel a little on my heels as my day job is taking all my time, but like many of you we will succeed for the love of our music.
Being Back In The Game is also as important to The Indy Rock Network. It is exciting for us to introduce new bands and feature new ideas as we roll along. A lot of time is spent on promoting our shows, introducing featured musicians and trying to build each bands following as we attempt to build the Networks following. It’s a group effort. Any ideas are truly appreciated. And hey if you would like to be a guest Blogger we would love to hear your experiences.
As we all look forward to live performance once again, I wish you all the best, and remember!
Get out there and kick some arse.
INDY ROCK BLOG #130
By Johnny Fast
The songs are written but this is where the other half of the work begins. The arrangement. The flow of the album. The album can't just be a bunch of songs thrown together in no particular order. To have the maximum effect, the album as a whole needs an ebb and flow. A rise and fall.
We like to consider the concept or story we are trying to tell and arrange things accordingly. Should the album start with a powerful high energy piece or a soft dramatic build. Usually I like to put the main single around the third or fourth song and build to it like we did on our albums, Becoming The Savage and Plethora and their respective singles, Solitude and Reckless Hero.
Everything is entirely the artists preference but it's a very personal way the artist wants you to hear the album and all the hard work. I personally still love the album even though people's short attention spans seem to only tolerate listening to half of a song and skipping continuously. There is an almost lost art of listening to an album from start to finish and hearing it in entirety the way it was meant to be heard.
For me the last song is the finale and an epic composition to finish off the story in a powerful way. It's usually one of the last songs I write and ends up being one of my personal favorite for that reason. You always love your most recent work and there is a feeling of pride in the song because it signifies the completion of another huge project.
Try listening to any classic full length album and you will always notice how well everything fits together.
INDY ROCK BLOG #129
By Tom Bland
Love Of Indy
Independent rock is a tough road to hall. Bands deal with financial restraints, limited venue opportunities and time issues, usually caused by working one or two additional jobs to support their love of music. Band members work all day and play all night, I’m sure that’s a song lyric somewhere. It’s hard and time consuming but I guarantee every musician wouldn’t change a thing.
Indie rock is a struggle at the best of times even for organizations trying to help new bands. People in general seem to want the established, well publicized acts and don’t explore what indie bands have to offer. Indie rock bands will definitely give you fresh, exciting music and shows, they leave nothing to chance, all or nothing. Original songs are a test and it isn’t easy to put it out there for everyone to critique but they do and it’s a rush.
The talent out there is incredible, guitarist like, Johnny Fast, Curtiss Vaselenak and Marty Midgard. Bassists like Adrian Dyer, Arthur Wallace and Mike Sawa. Drummers, Ryan Wiebe, Chris Dimas and Ryan Carreau. On vocals, Chantelle Night, Kris Kline and Steven Mansfield. This is just a glance at the talent, there’s a tone more out there to discover. Browse these bands, they are some of the best I assure you:
Things are beginning to open up and lots of bands are playing halls, clubs and festivals. To the people who haven’t seen an indie band, get out and take a look for yourself you won’t be disappointed. I’ve had the pleasure to meet some or communicate through social media with others and these musicians are the real deal. They are dedicated, focused and prepared to give you the show of your life, so follow these great bands because they could very well be, the next big thing.
INDY ROCK BLOG #128
By Les Mitchell
Due to a recent garage cleanup, I came across a treasure trove of my personal music history. My last house move was in the early days of 18 rabbit so recorded memories of that era as well as all of my previous eras were deeply buried and required something akin to an archaeological dig to unearth. I am what you would call a collector (not a hoarder) in that I have saved every photo, every article, every poster, and every video from this band’s history, which now spans 20 years. I have lived at the same place for almost that entire history, so most of the memorabilia is not so deeply buried that I have not come across it in the years since. However, many items from the first year or two of 18 rabbit and even some previous bands had remained hidden until recently. I knew of its probable existence and that it would be safely packed somewhere, but to actually find it was like finding a pot of gold. Of course I had to crack open a bottle of wine and dig in…
There were hundreds upon hundreds of photos, not seen or shared since the day they were taken. No smartphones in everyone’s pocket back then - we had to use a real camera and then get the film developed. It’s a bit surreal looking at your musician self from half of your lifetime ago. Different clothing, different hairstyles. There are pictures of old bandmates, fans and friends – some that you may not have seen since, and venues that have long since disappeared. I still have all of my guitars from that era, but even they look noticeably young in the pictures. Old demos and video clips reveal how far I have since progressed as a musician, but there is still a warm and nostalgic feeling going through these artifacts. I’m sure I will digitize and share of these things at some point, but for now, they remain as archived memories of a lost but not forgotten era.
As I patiently wait to again make that rock and roll noise with the boys, this discovery was a great trip through a crazy part of my life as a musician, but I feel like my best experiences are still yet to come…
INDY ROCK BLOG #127
By Paul Denton
I’ve recently been reflecting on how much things have changed over the years, in regards to not only the gear we may now use but how the tools and technology we have been introduced too.
The amps, P.A. system to lighting were so much bigger, bulkier and for the most part hard to maneuver. Soundboards were for the most part quite large analog monstrosities. We needed 5 ton trucks or converted school busses to transport all this stuff. As our equipment slowly began to develop we found ourselves leaning more to a more condensed and economical means of transport and operation. We all know how fast technology changes and can easily become outdated within only a few years. We no longer have the need to travel with full P.A. and lighting as most is provided by the venue and we must agree and appreciate the compact design and sound quality they now provide. Even the lighting is no longer heavy bulky par cans, instead small digital L.E.D. Lighting.
We can also see changes in how the studio has developed over the years. Are bands able to record their music without using a studio ? It wouldn’t surprise me one bit! My first studio experience was with an old reel to reel deck with cables running from a barn to a bedroom used as our makeshift control room. We can even think about advertising, and the impact it has given us today. Remember the old “flyer wars” we now have the convenience of the internet.
I find it fascinating to reflect back and think of how the music world has evolved. For better or worse we are given a more compact amazing sound tools to help reach a larger fan base at a much quicker pace. It’s how we choose to use this new technology to our full benefit. Definitely there can be pro’s and con’s to some of this!
I would like to leave you with thoughts about your music’s accessibility by digital format or hard copy format, and how it has helped in developing your music and band of today.
Indy Rock Network
INDY ROCK BLOG #126
By Johnny Fast
Gear is a very personal thing and how you arrive at your sound is usually completely original to every musician. Who doesn't like to talk about gear. Every show we play I speak to at least one of the other bands members about their set up. For me, it goes like this. The roots of my sound were inspired from the music I listen to and the sound I wanted to achieve. I listen to lots of metal and wanted a really thunderous heavy guitar sound. I've played many different set ups to get to here but have now been using the same set up for almost 10 years. I ended up with my Mesa Mark V amp after find that the bands Lamb of God and Dream Theater used these. I really like the sound they were able to achieve and the versatility to dial in a sound on these amps and have used this since the first DTR album. This is the same rig I play live and delivers such an amazing sound that people are always surprised that I get this done with very little effects. In the studio, I use my EVH 5150 amp as a second layer of rhthym tracks but everything else is the Mark V. I learned years ago that to many pedal effects diluted my sound and were really just frivolous and unnecessary. If you have an effect that you use for 10 seconds in one song in a two hour set, perhaps you don't need that cluttering your pedal board and stealing your signal all night. I cut my board down to the bare necessities. I use a snark tuner that clips to my guitar so I don't need a pedall hardwired in. My board consists of a Boss Delay and Chorus pedal, simple and durable and with good sound and adjustable too dial in the effect I'm looking for. I then have a basic overdrive pedal which gives me a little extra bite and sustain during solos and then a Steve Vai Bad Horsie Wah pedal. The wah is nice because it's active as soon as I step on it though I've had issues with the durability of the pedal design and have had to replace it several times (I'm open to suggestions!) When it comes to my guitar, I have many and use several in the studio for textures and specific songs however live it's usually one, my Musicman John Petrucci model. Perfect for live as it sounds great of course, is light weight so it's not hurting my shoulder and tiring me out and it's equipped with a whammy bar which I have grown to use frequently and comfortably. It also has a piezo pick you, which I don't use and requires a seperate like but works great as a kill switch and can add a good effect to breakdowns in a song, feedback or the end of a ripping solo. Either way, it's always good to be efficient and what works for you is completely up to you. Some folks like a 4x8 foot piece of plywood covered in every pedal available at the music store and that's ok too! Like fishing, it's exciting to get new gear and try it out and is equally as much fun as playing the music!
INDY ROCK BLOG #125
By Chantelle Night
This was a great blog, one to be repeated. Don’t let anything get in your way! Indy Rock Network
I'd like to share with y'all my story.....
I sang karaoke for fun like most people, I would get approached every time after singing and told, rather sternly "you NEED to be in a band!!" I would giggle kindly say thank you, and think to myself....hmmm do ya think? Then I approached my then partner of 10 years and asked Innocently "do you think I'm good enough of a singer to do it professionally like in a band?" With my child like dreams fragile waiting to be nourished or crushed he responded "I mean you're good, but not that good" so with that said I decided to stay in my lane and push those silly thoughts away. I would go to karaoke every week and the same thing, people would assault me with their disapproval of the fact that I was not doing something with my talent. Years went by like this, life changed for me, I left that toxic relationship (that's another story) and seemingly the music world fell into my lap naturally. I co-sang with other singers never thinking I was good enough to fly on my own. Until one night at a local bar I walked in on a band Playing. The singer was a tall beautiful female, she was interesting to say the least, but oh her vocal was like someone was killing the cat. Like a spell came over me, In that instant I knew, if someone with only confidence can be up there living their dream out with nothing but their sheer guts to back them up, then I can stop wasting my own time being afraid of not being good enough. I forced myself to take the stage as a front woman and be who I knew I was born to be. I've always admired that gutsy singer she was my inspiration and I’ve never told her. So be brave and just do that thing that your scared of, I promise you won't regret it.
INDY ROCK BLOG #124
By Les Mitchell
Lately, the biggest challenge associated with this series of writings is the scarcity of topics to write about. I love writing, but these blog entries are meant to be based on life’s musical experiences, and there just haven’t been a lot of those stories to share. Many music scenes are beginning the long journey of normalization and that is wonderful to see and hear. It is what we have all been waiting for and seems to be nearer for most. Sadly, our region does not seem close at all. Due to geography, we seem to be the last to be affected by each wave. As such, it may still be a long while before the 204 area code has a vibrant live music scene once again. At this point, I’m not permitted to see my bandmates in any capacity. Recently, we had talked about planning a band golf outing just so we could all spend a day hanging out and enjoying all of the shenanigans involved with being in each other’s company. Even that option is off the table for now. We all know the benefits of hindsight, but maybe we should have all moved in together at the beginning of last year before everything hit the fan. Imagine the entire band in one household - what a glorious gong show that could have been. Who knows if we would still be on speaking terms a year later, but we sure would have created some interesting music and I would probably have ten years worth of inspiration for writing this blog! The last thing we did as a group was to actually record a voiced sound clip for the Indy Rock Network radio station and that session turned out exactly as predicted. The more serious that we try to be, the sillier it gets. We are craving the opportunity to channel those fun vibes back into music. It has been somewhat of a lifeline that many of our sisters and brothers within the Indy Rock Network community have been sharing great new music. It will be equally exciting as we all begin to perform live again so that we can regale each other with fresh tales of new musical adventures. I will be gleefully reading those stories and hopefully getting ready to write a few of my own…
INDY ROCK BLOG #123
By Paul Denton
With everything going on, or not depending on how you look at things, I thought this month would be a good time to bring some laughter to this month’s blog. After all if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at. Here are a few of my Stage Mishap’s and please feel free to share yours.
For anyone that knows me, know I love to perform and by doing such has led to a few injuries over the years. Running across tables was always a favorite but taking a tumble only during soundcheck is somewhat over the top. You have to test the waters first. Running through a crowd of fans and someone sticking out an arm landing me on my backside was a shock. Didn’t think I could spring to my feet that quick, thinking the fight was on, but luckily we settled it peacefully over drinks. I’ve been manhandled and put into headlocks many times out on the dance floor but the most painful of all was falling backwards over a monitor. That one took some time to get up. For all that played the Calgary/Edmonton scene how we got away with making our own pyro was something only a professional should take on or so I now have come to realize. I’m sure there are stories here that we could all share! We definitely tried to entertain and put on the biggest shows as some still do today. If anyone is familiar with a band I played in called Sinister Minister, here are a couple of final mishap’s for ya. We had a genius by the name of Bill who built our ramps and a hydraulic drum riser that tilted forward to 90 degrees. Our poor drummer Davey boy Mills was only held in with a strap across his chest.(YIKES) I recall 75% of the time hydraulics would fail leaving my poor friend playing half a song stuck in the air facing the ground. Of course our road crew came to his rescue by rushing to the stage and pulled this monstrosity back to the ground. We also strapped this riser to the roof of a Winnebago driving in Calgary for a video shoot. How could anyone ever get away with some of the stunts we pulled and live to talk about it?
Whatever the “Spinal Tap” moment and stage mishap’s we may have encountered, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Just try not to make the same Mishap twice!
INDY ROCK BLOG 122
By Pete Zilinski
I thought that I would change up my topic for this blog and try to describe a little bit of what my life is like during this pandemic. Bear in mind that this is written “tongue in cheek”.
I consider myself to be a musician first and a high school instructor second. Or as I used to tell everyone “Part time musician, full time roadie”. And, oh yes, don’t quit the day job! I have to admit that my love for playing music has always surpassed my love for my day job. However it has come to my attention that during this lockdown that we are currently in, I am really missing my students that are at home doing virtual learning. I teach high school senior automotive and welding and not being able to have all those crazy teenagers around every day is starting to get to me. I can really relate to everyone out there who is unable to visit their loved ones, friends and family right now.
This brings me to my other issue. I am so sick and tired of doing virtual meetings! Every day another zoom meeting or another google meet. Please people (I mean my administrators) stop with the virtual meetings already! Hopefully you do not have an overabundance of virtual meetings. I mean, comb your hair, get dressed, shave, put some pants on and get on zoom or facetime!
And now to my last point. I’ve sure seen some changes in the education system in my time as a teacher, but one change in particular has me thinking. Young people, by that I mean teenagers, do not seem to have the same desire to play music. When I started at this high school there were 5 or 6 rock bands, a full band program and a choir. Now, I don’t think that there has been a band of any type here for a few years. What happened? Well, the internet and American Idol type of programs come to mind. Is it not cool to play an instrument anymore? Or, does it require too much time and effort in this instant everything world that we live in today. Maybe there is a part that I and others can play in this dilemma. Encourage the young people around you to take up an instrument. Help them learn some chords on a guitar or a drumbeat on a kit. Inspire them to take the time to listen to great music of all genres. Let’s keep music a part of this generation’s life and the generations to come.
Keep on Rockin’
INDY ROCK BLOG #121
By Tom Bland
After reading Pete, Jon, Paul and Les‘s blogs they made me start thinking about my direction. During the past year most have had plenty of time to work on personal musical projects or practice. I’ve heard some say this time has given them opportunities that at busier times in their lives didn’t allow. This is great for those individuals but, some I’ve heard don’t have the inspiration or have a loss of concentration. Unfortunately I am one of the latter. Even though Indy Rock Network business carries on as I just don’t seem to have the zeal or diligence for some reason for drumming. I have sat at my kit maybe two or three times over the last year, and even then it just felt different. You would think I would be abusing the kit especially since this is the first time in over two decades I’ve had any of my kits at home. I don’t think it’s laziness or that I’m uninterested as much as it is direction. My mind knows I can’t do much with the band at the moment so it has unconsciously directed me to temporarily replace those normal practice behaviours with other things. Even though I am restricted in my movement I have worked harder on unseen at this time Indy Rock Network plans. Hopefully some of this gets to see some daylight. But back to the problem at hand. How do I, or we who are in this funk, reverse what has happened unknowingly to us. First, this lockdown isn’t going to last forever. We must realize this and know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Secondly, we must force ourselves to get back on the horse. Make time to just play a little on your instrument regularly, have fun, enjoy it, no stress just play. I am getting back on the horse starting tomorrow, not too long, once a day, just for fun. I’m sure I have a lot of muscle memory that has got dementia and it will take time but has to be done. To all you other musicians that have had this same issue, good luck, find your way back. Tomorrow is a new day, time to get practicing and preparing to hit the stage soon.
Indy Rock Network
INDY ROCK BLOG #120
By Les Mitchell
The boys recently got together in a way that is currently deemed acceptable. No instruments were played and no amplifiers were set to stun, but we had a really great visit. This type of gathering had not happened in several months so it was awesome to see each other, see all the different haircuts, and just hang out. Supplemented by background music and an array of cold refreshments, we just talked and talked for hours. As I suspected, everyone has been dealing with lockdown in much the same way that I have - as I have described in my recent writings. Everybody has been practicing more than ever. No one has lost any love or excitement for what it is that we do musically on our own or together. In fact, it seems quite the opposite. Everyone is full of musical energy that is waiting to be expressed. If we had been allowed to fire up the gear and jam, we likely would have spontaneously come up with many interesting things to build upon. We also just as likely would have drawn unwanted attention to ourselves!
What actually did occur was a lot of laughs and the usual good-natured ribbing along with all kinds of ideas, some crazy and some not so crazy. With everyone having had so much time to practice, explore, think, and dream big, there were many thoughts exchanged – music in general, instruments, new ways to write, rehearse, and perform, as well as ideas for original and cover songs. We listened to working mixes of songs we have been making with fresh perspectives on how they should sound. There were some absolutely hilarious exchanges where we were using the air-guitar or air-drumming technique to explain suggestions about where a song should or shouldn’t go. I wish I had filmed all of that for future amusement.
Most of all, it was wonderful for all of us to reconnect with our brothers. We needed to catch up and make sure everyone is doing as well as they can be, given that our favorite group activity has been paused. These are relationships and conversations that we can’t have with anybody else. This gathering certainly did wonders for my spirits. The beating heart of this rock band has not diminished one bit – it is waiting patiently to spring to new life, even better than before.
INDY ROCK BLOG #119
By Paul Denton
I must admit at times trying to remain focused and motivated can be some what of a challenge. It sometimes seems you take one step forward and two steps back. There seems to be a lot weighing on your mind when the world around you is in such uncertainty. Unfortunately some bands will have some trouble to weather the storm, so I am writing this hoping to give encouragement to the ones that may have lost band members or just need some positive vibes to help get through these crazy times.
It sometimes can help to reflect on the progress you’ve already achieved. Take a listen to your recorded tracks or past video and be proud. Listen to your influences and what inspired you from the beginning. Follow other Indy bands to see what they are doing, sometimes this can give you a fresh approach to how you handle your project.
I’ve talked about media in past blogs and it couldn’t be anymore important than in the current times. Until performing begins again media is our biggest tool to connect. This downtime doesn’t actually have to be downtime. I’ve always believed promoting your product should never stop. If you’re needing a website now is the time, build that portfolio. Write those songs. If you are seeking new musicians get those adds out and most importantly promote all your achievements and needs through social media.
If anyone can share thoughts on how to remain motivated please do. There are many bands involved in the Indy platform that may be able to help. To the bands seeking musicians, don’t give up.
Stay Motivated my friends!
Indy Rock Network
INDY ROCK BLOG #118
By Johnny Fast
The art of social media, like it or hate it, is something we must all learn. As petty and time consuming as it can be, it can also unlock connection with more people than has ever been possible for bands of our unsigned status. I've been on social media for years and always been somewhat regular in posting content however recently learning that it takes more than just posting a video a week to the same friends and followers to grow your fan base. It is persistence to post daily and to be looking for connection to other people and groups and combined with the use of many associated hash tags to make sure your video is showing up in many broader searchs. With what Indy Rock Network has been creating over the years, there is huge potential for all bands that are members to connect and promote each other to drive our followers social presence upwards. It might be worthwhile to consider promoting another band on your social media, as tagging them exposes them to your following but also connects you with theirs. Just a thought. With over 60 bands under this umbrella, there's thousands of followers at each other's fingertips. The tendency of a band is always to compete against other bands in a scramble to claw our way to the top. I've seen it plenty! I think that working together will get us much farther and also build the Indy music scene to be something that can have a resurgence and resilience!
INDY ROCK BLOG #117
By Pete Zilinski
Left Brain/Right Brain
With all of this time that we have had to spend self-isolating during covid, it occurred to me that it was time to do some brain research. BTW I’m having trouble finding mine somedays. Actually, what triggered this idea is that my youngest son is working on his PhD in bio-medical/electrical engineering. His focus is on creating lasers that can read brain patterns much like an MRI except in real time. Very sci-fi stuff. Maybe someday he can check out the cavern I call my brain! This in turn led me to wonder what really is going on in this head of mine at different times in the musical sense. The standard theory is that people are either left-brained or right-brained, meaning that one side of their brain is dominant. If you’re mostly analytical and methodical in your thinking, you’re said to be left-brained. If you tend to be more creative or artistic, you’re thought to be right-brained. So, when you are creating or writing music you would be using mostly your right brain. And if you are recording and acting as your own engineer, you would be using your left brain. Now I am starting to understand why I find it difficult to be the guitarist and the engineer when we record in our own studio. I personally find it difficult to switch from the creative state to the analytical state. This is not to say that others can’t do it, I’m only speaking from my own experience. A couple of years ago we had the chance to record a couple of songs at Private Ear Studio in Winnipeg and I loved it. I just got in the zone and played guitar, no tweaking eq, no patching cables, no switching of mics. It was wonderful to just be able to focus on the playing and not have to worry about the technical side. Do any of you fellow musicians ever encounter these same issues?
And now my covid-brain says that’s enough, get back to shredding some guitar!
INDY ROCK BLOG #116
By Duane Keiver
Hey all, Hope you are keeping it together with all these crazy times. This is my 1st ever Blog so please be kind ha ha. I would like to talk about inspiration. Inspiration as we know can come from many different forms. Events in life, sorrows, anger, happiness, a love, and the songs we create reflect these. Looking around the world now everything is so upside down. Friends who are now enemies, politics, pandemics and mental health issues, and its hard to grasp at finding that Inspiration sometimes. We drift into a funk (myself lately very much included in that). A piece of our LIFE has been taken away like the death of a loved one. Whether it means performing, watching others perform, rehearsing, hell even just getting together to hang over beverages has been currently disabled. As a teen of the 80's I was thinking the other day what made that time so much fun... it was FREEDOM. Freedom to express in styles of music ...if it sounded weird... who cares ... clothes ( colours , styles )... who cares. People could find inspiration it seemes easier because there were not the restraints of society that we now face. Respect was earned and not expected or demanded. We now have to dig extra deep when the day to day tries to drag us down. Go for a walk, listen to other styles and forms of music that ideas can grow from. We are the dreamers, creators and caretakers of our craft. It’s up to us to keep open minds right now more then ever and not give up. Take a deep breath and walk further down the road moving forward. Eventually we will get to a place where we can no longer walk and we won’t be able to do this anymore ....But at least we can say we gave it everything we had and it was a hell of an adventure. Be well and safe all, and SO look forward to hearing new material from everyone and hopefully crossing paths on the stage.
Bass guitar / vocals.