Steve Cook's soul, song, and sweat.

Shinybass journal entry 1-26-11

Some days are better than others. Some nights are better than some days. Last night was a good night – and probably not even for the reasons you are thinking. This entry is all about discovery, empowerment, and the fact that you can do anything. Even if you don’t know that you can.

When you are out touring with an artist, you (hopefully) learn the show, and for some, that’s where your journey ends. Or your Foreigner. That was bad. Anyways – you are playing the same songs night after night, and if you aren’t moving forward in your musical career by learning or creating, then, in my eyes, you are standing still. My days off are precious, but I also try and create something every day, whether it is a line to a song, a lick, or a full-blown production, I like to keep it moving forward.

So that means in my spare time, I try and get into other projects. A couple of years ago, my good friends Jeff Brown and Jeff Cease got together and tracked a bunch of stuff for a little rock project we called ‘Supercharger’. My dreams of playing a show somewhere in town have faded somewhat, with both Jeffs off to new bands and schedules not really lining up. I may resurrect the idea, but for now, I am pretty happy with the fact that I was able to create fun music for no other reason than the love of doing it. When money and percentages get involved, it gets all screwed up. Not that money was ever discussed – we just came in to track for the hell of it. Some fun things came out, and some of you have heard our wares on my Reverb Nation page. Fun stuff.

But not everything we tracked made it to the ‘finished’ pile. We did a fun remake of a pop song, and it sat on my hard drive, untouched forever. I sent it to a friend to mix, and after waiting for oh, forever, I gave up. In his defense, he has been busier than I, so it’s all good. Then I decided to be proactive, and have the song professionally mixed here in Nashville. I sat in the studio with the engineer, and we hammered out a few things here and there, and after about 3 hours of his time, and 3 hours of OUR time in the control room, we had it close. Or at least I thought.

The mixes were sent, and I sent them to Jeff Brown to hear. He called immediately and said ‘What the hell is this?’. After taking a day away from the mix, I went back and listened, and realized he was right. It was bad. So I called the engineer and said we need more fixes. I also sent an email, wondering as I hit the ‘send’ button how much more money this would cost. Either way, I waited. And waited.

A couple days ago, I finally got the ‘new’ mixes back, and somehow, someway, we went backwards. I haven’t talked to the engineer yet, so if he reads this (which I am pretty sure he doesn’t), then I would expect a phone call. But we lost track (no pun intended) in the mixes, and I think it’s because of a lack of communication. In the artistic world, we visionaries have something bouncing around in our heads, and if others can’t see (or hear) our little imaginary creations, then we have trouble. This is one of those cases where we can’t seem to get on the same page.

So last night, I grabbed that bull. Armed with a bottle of Merlot and my partner in crime Jeff Brown, we sat and mixed this song. Now, truth be told, I did have a friend come in about 8 months ago and start this mix. I can’t take all the credit. By the time we finished last night, we were excited. Jeff and felt like we were in school again, excited over music, over sounds, over something that we created from almost scratch. And the fact that we could do it was encouraging. I mean, we don’t really have formal training in mixing or recording, and I am sure some naysayers will jump in and say that ‘this frequency can be better here…yadda yadda’, but like Jeff said last night – we just turn knobs ’til it sounds good’. And that’s what we did.

So with that demon conquered, now on to other things. That little episode made me realize the amazingly dangerous power I have in my hands. I have the capacity to churn out crappy dance song after crappy dance song, and not even flinch. That is dangerous. Seriously though, I realized that if you want to get something done, don’t wait on others, even if you think that they can do a better job. If you decide to tackle a project on your own, even if the results are less than perfect, it’s your project, and the knowledge you gain from that little bit of effort is priceless. Of course, I am not recommending that you rent a backhoe and clear your backyard without a little knowledge of heavy equipment operation. And isn’t most equipment ‘heavy’? Anything I have to lift that weighs more than 40 pounds is heavy. I’m just saying…

Another quick example of grabbing the bull is this website. It’s not pretty. It’s not complete. It doesn’t have my smiling face all over it (yet). But I did it myself, and this is with zero knowledge of web design. They make it pretty easy here at WordPress, and I appreciate that. Makes me look smarter than I say.

So jump in that proverbial pen and wrestle your bull. Whatever that means. Just enjoy the day, and remember – life is too short for burnt popcorn. Go make another batch.

See you on the road.

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