No Backing Band Needed?!

Posted Jun 6, 2014 in Music, Projects

I’ve been a musician for a long time now. I started playing drums when I was fourteen thanks to my childhood friend, Tom Dante and started playing guitar when I was sixteen thanks to my high school friend, Mike Gonzales. Tom and I listened to a lot of Rush and Mike and I listened to a lot of Hanoi Rocks. And, as time went on I got fairly good at playing both the drums and the guitar.

I’ve played in many bands since I started playing all those years ago. I was in a band called Pagan Love Fest in college where I was the lead guitar player. I then went on to form my own band called Spain Spivak up here in Seattle where I was the singer, song writer and guitar player. I also played the drums in a band called 13th Grade and recorded all of our material in my home studio.

All in all, music has been an important piece of my life since I was fourteen. But, in the last few years since going to grad school and having a child, I’ve had to give up playing in bands. And, my music career (if you can call it that) has all but died with its boots on.

In all honestly, though, I admit that I haven’t missed the gigging part of being a musician all that much. Dragging your gear around in the rain to play at shitty clubs for your band’s girlfriends and the other bands’ girlfriends can get pretty exhausting. It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock n’ roll.

What I do miss… is playing. I miss playing my guitar at levels that will make your ears bleed. I miss singing. And, most of all, I miss recording and futzing around with audio.

I’ve got all this equipment and a pretty big set of skills that I have complied over the years and have done nothing with them as of late. It’s been kinda sad. When my friends ask me if I’m doing any music these days, the answer has sadly been, “No.”

So, in my quest to keep up on my guitar skills I have started to play again lately. I’ve turned the amp up to eleven and have broken out my old song book. There’s also a lot of songs that I had wished I learned a lot earlier in my life. So, It was time to learn how to play those too.

In this day and age, one can not help but turn to the YouTube machine to learn how to play some new material and learn some new techniques, myself included. And, as I starting thumbing through all of the guitar lessons and videos of songs I wanted to learn, I thought to myself, “There’s got to be some backing tracks that I can find of some of the songs I am working on, no?” The answer… “Yes. Shitloads of them.”

So, as I played along to The Trooper and Voodoo Child in my basement studio (take a listen), another thought occurred to me… “It can’t be that hard to make these backing tracks, can it? Why the fuck don’t I try to make some backing tracks of my old songs to practice too?! It can’t be that hard!”

For a while, I’ve been using Digital Performer to record, mix and master all of the analog to digital audio for the bands I’ve recorded. I’ve even used click tracks to record guitar, base, drums and vocal tracks all on my own, one-off style like Lenny Kravitz.

All in all, recording analog to digital like this has worked out very well for me. But, this time I was going to need to approach this a little differently. This time around I was going to need to use the MIDI feature that I have never used before to create the bass line. I was also going to need to program the drums using iDrum by iZotope which has some nice sounding acoustic kits. I also wanted a real sounding vintage bass instead of an electronic sounding one. So, I bought JBass by Acoustic Samples.

Sure enough, all of this was pretty damn easy to figure out. And, a hell of a lot of fun! So, I present to you my first backing track for an old song of mine called, “Cheater.”

Maybe I will even work on all of the rest of my songs here pretty soon as well and go play solo like Casey Frank wants me to.


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