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Here's What's Happening: May 2012

Here's What's Happening: May 2012 published on No Comments on Here's What's Happening: May 2012

So, because I’m really bad at updating my news – and because I have a bad tendency to write posts that are way too long when I finally do get around to updates – here’s the quick gist of it:

I’m about to put out two new solo albums; the mixes are being finished as we speak. Why two albums? Because I found myself inspired in two different directions at the same time.

Album 1: The Hard Bargain – the mid-life crisis rock album. Songs – with actual melodies, chord progressions, and tightly-arranged structures – and a strictly guitar-bass-drums instrumentation. This is me finally giving myself permission to make an instrumental rock guitar album, after spending most of the last 15 years doing everything in my power to avoid it. It is, by a large margin, the single most unfashionable thing I’ve ever made.

Some of my points of reference for The Hard Bargain: Led Zeppelin, Sonic Youth, Living Colour, Nels Cline, Jeff Beck, King Crimson.

Album 2: Do The Math – the mad scientist modular synth krautrock hauntology album. Lots of guitar on this one, too, but the foundation is a ton of bleeping, sputtering, buzzing synthesizers. Still very composed in comparison to anything I’ve released previously, but this album is more concerned with texture / vibe / sonics. This is me tearing up my “all guitar, no synthesizers used!” manifesto of the last decade or so – and since I was noodling on synths and drum machines before I ever got a guitar, it’s a roundabout “back to my roots” kind of thing.

Reference points for Do The Math: Pink Floyd, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Silver Apples, Laurie Spiegel, Raymond Scott, Public Enemy, ’70s Miles Davis. (I know, I know – EVERYBODY quotes ’70s Miles as an influence.)

There’s no echoplex, or live looping of any kind, on either album, although Do The Math is, in its way, as purely loop-based as anything I’ve ever done.

If you haven’t listened already, rough versions of four songs (two from each album) are available at my Bandcamp page:

Looking at those four tracks now, I wouldn’t say they’re “unrepresentative” of their albums, but neither do they totally encapsulate what either one is “about.” Reactions from people who have already heard this stuff have been all over the place, but I feel really strongly about putting this music out right now.

When are they coming out? As soon as I finish them – late May, early June…?

Note that I didn’t say what YEAR. (Kidding. [God, I’d BETTER be kidding.])

There’s the update! (See, that wasn’t so bad. I should do that more often…)



IT LIVES published on 5 Comments on IT LIVES

OK, three years since my last blog post? What’s the opposite of “radical transparency?” (Conservative opacity?)

Soooooo many things to talk about, and I have a nagging urge to not talk about any of them at all. Hmmmm.

Making an album is like cleaning a house; the closer the room gets to being totally clean and organized, the harder it is to finish cleaning it. Making two albums at the same time is… like that, except with, um… another house?

Sometimes I feel guilty about complaining about anything – white male American art school graduate first world problems etc. I spend a lot of time trying to eliminate a sense of ego in myself. This is contrasted with the times when I remind myself that without a certain amount of ego, it’s hard to come up with a reason to get out of bed in the morning. (And then I wonder why I have trouble sleeping…)

Loooooong weekend. Will I finish a single song? Many songs? One of the two albums?

This will probably look even more ridiculous tomorrow morning than it already does right now in my half-asleep halfsleepiness. God knows if I’ll delete this before “sharing” it on teh social networxxor.

Time to (try) and sleep as visions of mixer settings and arrangements and EQ curves dance in my head.

State of the Axe: Guitar Masters in Photographs and Words

State of the Axe: Guitar Masters in Photographs and Words published on No Comments on State of the Axe: Guitar Masters in Photographs and Words

Since my last entry saw me waxing existential about what I’d done with my life, here’s a post with one or two conclusive answers.

State of the Axe: Guitar Masters in Photographs and Words, was recently published. It’s a collection by Ralph Gibson, a seminal American photographer, of dozens of guitar players, along with brief writings by the guitarists themselves about their relationship to the instrument. The list of players profiled includes David Torn, Allan Holdsworth, Jim Hall, Lou Reed, Bill Frisell, Andy Summers, Nels Cline, Les Paul, and many others.

…including me. No, really.

In January of 2004, I played at the New York Guitar Festival, opening for David Torn. Ralph Gibson was at the show to take pictures of Torn, and after I did my soundcheck, he asked if he could do some shots of me as well. Some time thereafter, he asked me for some words about the guitar to accompany the shot, and the rest is… well, a pretty amazing book that I somehow got to be a part of. For me, it’s a trip to see a short-haired Andre playing a Steinberger guitar again, and while I’m not sure I still would have used the phrase “caterwauling car alarms” (ahem…) in my written entry, I’m thrilled beyond measure to be included.

Like a lot of things in the music world (and life in general, for that matter), it’s a classic case of randomly being in the right place at the right time, and happening to be heard by somebody who digs what they hear, and is in a position to do something about it.

Serious thanks go to David Torn, who invited me to play the gig where Ralph heard me in the first place (and who also gives me a very gracious mention in his own entry in the book), along with David Spelman, the director of the New York Guitar Festival, who saw fit to have me on the gig in the first place. And of course, immense gratitude to Ralph Gibson for seeing fit to put a player like myself in a book like this. I was 29 when that gig went down, so there’s at least one thing I did with my ’20s.

You can see a preview of some of the shots, along with a full list of the guitarists in the book, at this link. State of the Axe: Guitar Masters in Photographs and Words, is available at book stores and websites everywhere.

My Tempus is Fugiting

My Tempus is Fugiting published on 13 Comments on My Tempus is Fugiting

OK, not the most prolific blogger over here…

Lots going on, very little of it seemingly worth talking about on a web page. But I’ll give it a go…

Teaching guitar is one of the very best jobs in the entire world, and although things are a little softer than they have been in previous years, I’ve still got a very good schedule of 30-plus students, plus a “school of rock” – style band that I help coach (and play bass guitar in, too!) Like pretty much every single other person I know, I’ve been extremely stressed about money for the last few months, but teaching has been remarkably resilient to the economy.

I haven’t played any solo gigs for quite a while, mainly because the two venues I used to frequent – Nova Express (the space-cafe pizza joint in Hollywood) and Dangerous Curve (an art gallery and performance space in downtown) have both closed down. It’s a drag to not be able to book a gig; there are plenty of venues in Los Angeles, but most of them require an artist to bring at least 15 or so people through the door. I can’t guarantee that kind of audience in LA; I’ve done shows for a lot more people than that, and I’ve done shows where no one at all showed up to see me.

Being “homeless” in a performance-venue sense has been a bit of a head-twister. I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last few months going through the typical tortured artist/thirty-something bohemian motions: wondering exactly what the hell I’ve done with the last several years of my life, feeling like a cryptic madman howling alone in the wilderness, wondering why I didn’t spend all of that time learning classic rock songs and jazz standards instead of programming drum machines and studying Echoplex parameters, etc etc ad nauseum.

The main result of all of this is that, partially because of not having impending gigs to have to prepare for, and partially because of the above-mentioned feelings of dissatisfaction with myself, I’ve been practicing guitar more intently and obsessively than I have in many years. It can be hard to gauge one’s progress on a day-by-day basis – it’s a bit like looking in the mirror every morning to see if your hair’s growing – but there are things I’ve been trying to do for a long time that I’m finally getting a bit of a handle on, and things seem to be flowing more smoothly and fluently than they have in a long time.

I feel a bit like I did in ’98-’99, when I was recording Disruption Theory, or in 2002 when I was trying to find a voice with the Echoplex; like I’m putting myself back together again. Ten years ago I was obsessed with being a jungle/instrumental hybridist, and seven years ago I wanted to deconstruct my own concept of looping. Right now, I’m trying to turn myself into a guitar player. Not a post-DJ looping slice-and-dicer (though I still have plenty to say in that world) and not an electronic-meets-organic composer. I want to be a guitar player. And God help me, I’m actually seriously thinking about recording new original music for the first time in at least six years. Even if I don’t have a venue to sell a CD at!


YouTube! published on No Comments on YouTube!

Huge thanks to Jody Beth Rosen for filming and uploading these clips!

This first one is from May 12th, 2008 at CalArts, where I played in a guitar department alumni concert along with Thomas Leeb and Dustin Boyer.

The second and third are from Cafe Metropol in LA on Friday, June 20th, 2008, taken from a solo set I played that night. Also on the bill were Todd Reynolds, Daren Burns and Motoko Honda.

Hot on the heels of another highly successful absence

Hot on the heels of another highly successful absence published on 2 Comments on Hot on the heels of another highly successful absence

Holy smacks, laziest blogger ever…

– The third Hollywood film to feature my playing on the original score gets wide release in the US next week. (Apparently it’s already on DVD in other parts of the world.) More details in a few.

– Gig this Sunday at Dangerous Curve along with Ken Rosser and Bill Forth. I always have a fine time a sharing a show with these gentlemen, and Dangerous Curve is a favorite place to play.

– Speaking of which, Nova Express, the space cafe I played at since mid-2005, is no more. The spot closed shop forever about a month back; I was lucky to be able to play the final night it was open, along with Daren Burns and Chris Opperman. Very bittersweet for me, as I had a lot of great gigs there during a pretty difficult period of my life. But it’s a good impetus for me to get in gear and start looking for other performance prospects.

– An alarming number of waiters and cashiers have referred to me as “ma’am” over the last few months, and at least a couple of men have done double-takes upon catching a glimpse of me when entering a restroom. Presumably this is from seeing my now-very long hair from the back. Although the fact that I seem to be going through my mid-’30s dressing like a teenage girl probably doesn’t clarify matters too much. At least Chuck Taylors and skinny jeans are pretty low-maintainance as mid-life-crisis signifiers go.

Sunday Sunday Sunday

Sunday Sunday Sunday published on 1 Comment on Sunday Sunday Sunday

A gig this weekend at a favorite spot of mine:

Sunday, September 30
4:00 PM | $7 – $10 sliding scale
Dangerous Curve –

This will be my third time playing at this very cool art gallery and performance space in downtown LA. Also on the bill will be my good friend and very fine bassist Daren Burns (, playing duo with an extremely innovative guitar player named Scott Collins. (When I’ve seen Scott, he’s wielded a self-made doubleneck fretted/fretless instrument.) A gentlemen named Marc Thomas rounds out the show for the afternoon.

Performance order at Dangerous Curve is typically determined right at the time of the show, and/but I encourage you to check out the whole afternoon.

Come one, come all…

Come one, come all… published on No Comments on Come one, come all…

(what a funny phrase that is.)

Gig, yo:

Wednesday, Sept. 12 | 8:30 PM
Nova Express –
Free admission

A triple-bill with two fantastic guitarists: Ken Rosser and Bill Forth. The three of us did a show together at Dangerous Curve a month or two back, and it was great fun, so I’m excited to see what happens at Nova with this bill.

Ken Rosser: and

Bill Forth: and

Your truly: and

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