Archive for the ‘Rehearsing’ Category
Yeah, that didn’t exactly go as planned. Dan and Scott were completely out of the music scene after their original departures. Neither had been in any sort of band, and in fact Dan hadn’t played much at all during his absence. It was a surprise to all three of us (James, Dave and I) how well both did in their auditions when we took that into account. We assumed it would be pretty easy to iron things out and get back out playing, oh, say in August.
Well, you can probably see this coming – while both of them have worked very hard, the combination of crazy summer scheduling and working through the bumps of two talented people learning how to be in a band again delayed our re-emergence a bit more than we would have liked. To paraphrase a great frontman I saw recently, we regret this – but we are back now.
You can catch the first two of many shows to come on either Sep. 29th at the Sunset Lounge in Hagerstown, MD (with Doom Syndicate, Cammo Shorts and Heimdall), or on our return to Monthly Metal at Balls Bluff in Leesburg on Oct. 6th, with our brothers in metal Pharaoh in a rare U.S. show, as well as Trihexyn and Death Penalty. Details can be found on our shows page.
In the spirit of The Old School, we’ve also decided to re-release 1998’s “Ascension to Eternity”, our long-out-of-print second album (and the last one to feature both Dan and Scott) via Bandcamp’s “Name Your Price” option. You can get it free – which we’re fine with – or you can pay what you think it’s worth, here. Enjoy it, and hopefully this whets your appetite for the new music coming towards the end of the year. We’ll be featuring several songs from this one live (along with the “Trinity” and “Control Issues” material, of course). This album contains some of my personal favorites from the Division catalog, and I’m looking forward to dusting some of them off and showcasing them again.
When I auditioned for Division a couple years ago, they requested I learn four songs from the latest album, Control Issues. I, of course, already owned the album since I had picked it up at the CD release show. To my surprise, they sent me the sheet music to the whole album, as well as several songs from Trinity and Ascension to Eternity. “Fools!” I thought to myself. I had the chance to learn how to play some of my favorite Division songs even if I didn’t get the gig.
So I did. Before learning a single audition track, I worked on some songs I considered to be must-learns: “Eleventh Hour,” “Children of the Stone,” and “The New Elite.” (Alas, there was no tab for “Free” or “Departed”.) Of course, I learned the Control Issues tracks, too: “Hunt,” “Short Attention Span Society,” “Gemini,” and “The Collector.” Listening to the album, I thought these songs would be a piece of cake, since they sounded so organic. Guess what? They’re pretty frickin’ hard. I probably shouldn’t have saved them for the end. Next time you hear “The Collector,” go ahead and try to count it out. Good luck. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Division works hard. Very hard. When you’re watching them from the audience, as I had done since 1998, you know that they make it look effortless. There’s a reason they can melt faces and do it so tightly: tireless practicing. I had to kick it into high gear to learn these songs.
At my audition, we played through the audition songs. I only screwed up each song in multiple places. But why don’t you try playing some of Ron CK’s bass lines some time? The guy was nuts! I was barely hanging on. But apparently I didn’t do a poorly as I thought since at no point did anyone say, “That was a complete disaster. Thanks for wasting our time.” But in a (brief) moment of silence, I did let on to the fact that I had learned a handful of more Division songs. They obliged me and we jammed on the aforementioned tunes. It was awesome. And I thought it would be the last time I’d see them.
Much to my surprise, I soon received a message from Division. They wanted me to come back for a second audition. Great, I got the chance to ruin all the songs in front of them another time. Before I had a chance to realize what was going on, I got received yet another email: I got the gig. Apparently, Ron’s bass lines had injured the hands of everyone else who auditioned. Holy crap.
A few months, gigs, and equipment upgrades later, and I was crushing souls alongside Division, hopefully to the same degree I had witnessed Division doing in the past. We leveled Jaxx, we lit up the State Theater, we razed Jammin’ Java, we crushed Ball’s Bluff. We played practically all of Control Issues onstage, as well as “Eleventh Hour,” “Masquerade,” “The Prophecy (Greed),” “No World Order,” “Children of the Stone,” “Departed,” “Eraser,” “Remembrance,” “Paradise Lost,” and a slew of covers. I do regret not being able to play “Society’s Child” and “Free,” two songs I remember from way back in the day, with the guys.
Playing bass in Division is quite challenging. Mike and Dave are fantastic guitarists with frighteningly quick right hands (I wonder why). James pounds the double bass like a Seal Team 6 surgical strike. As the sonic bridge between the three of them, you can’t half-ass the bass lines. Mike will call you out and Dave will endlessly mock you if you alternate pick where you should be downpicking. (Whenever Dave does that, you can just call him short.) Nick had plenty of time between verses to come over to me and detune the bass while I play, or hit my pedal, or some other sort of shenanigans. Odin help you if you were behind the beat. I tried playing way in front of the beat, too. They didn’t like that, either. They’re never satisfied. Needless to say, it was practically a battleground to play well at all times. My bass playing definitely improved just by being in the room with them.
Many gigs, towns, venues, songs, rehearsals, great times, height jokes, age jokes, and cheap beers (for which I was also mocked) later, and my tenure in this great band is at an end. It is time to pack up my bass, my amp, and my Valnøtt pedal, and head off into the frozen north – Maryland – where I will continue to bring the aural destruction with my long-time bands Burning Shadows and Recently Vacated Graves. I’ll miss Division and all the great times that came with it. I hope to share the stage with these guys again. I look forward to seeing Division from the other side of the stage and starting vicious rumors during the shows. I’ve had a taste of the new material that’s coming. All I can say is that I hope you enjoy your face while you have it, because it’s going to be melted off.
Hey all, Nick here. Since I sing (exclusively) in Division, I figured I’d return to the blogging game with some tips for singers. This post will cover some aspects of mic(rophone) control techniques. Listen up, if you’re a lead or backup singer, this stuff is important to you, your band, your fans, and even your ears.
What do I mean by “mic control”? Simple. Mic technique is understanding your projection and adjusting your position and distance from the mic to compensate. In simpler terms, if you sing a low note with little projection, but the same note an octave higher with massive projection – well, your mouth can’t be as close to the mic for both notes.
Got it? Good. Let’s move forward.
What makes mic control important? Let me list two very important scenarios. The first is dedicated to the touring musician. The second is more about your ears.
Touring musicians might hire their own personnel to handle lights and sound. These hired guns know every mood change and can assist in the band’s attempts to reach out to the fans to personalize the performance. They might know every note, the order of the songs in the set, or even the points where the audience should be moved by a sudden on-stage action. Most bands don’t have this. Instead, they have the sound and light guys who cover every band that perform on their stage. They have no idea when the singer might growl, shout or spike in volume. Their ignorance of the band can actually scare off casual fans. One man’s lack of a band’s catalog can literally isolate dozens of potential new fans. If the sound engineer doesn’t know how to manage the volume of the instruments, two things can happen. First, the mix may wash out some of the band’s strength, like a signature guitar solo, or great vocal performance. Second, if the monitors on stage aren’t done right, and the musicians and singers can’t hear what they’re doing…look out. That’s the quickest path to a lousy performance.
Singers, from casual to professional, should also make sure they aren’t suddenly bellowing in to the mic. In addition to hurting the band’s performance, it can also hurt your ears. In-ear monitors can be used to isolate voices and instruments, and to block out all sound. If a singer’s voice has a direct path to your eardrum, and that singer suddenly goes from singing to shouting as part of a performance, it can cause serious damage.
Distance is your friend when it comes to mic control. The distance from a singer’s mouth to the microphone can affect three things; volume, strength, and enunciation. Singers who tend to get very close to the mic can lose enunciation and make their voices sound warped. Jon Tidey describes trying to record these singers on the ProSound Web Blog HERE. Marc Acito writes a whole blog about the Broadway trend of swallowing the mic to be heard HERE. A well-trained singer doesn’t need to have her lips and teeth on the microphone in order to be heard. Learning how to project with the mic just a few inches from the mouth can really help a singer learn to project and to help her sound engineer.
Another technique that assists in maintaining tone is to move the mic away when holding a note that is intended to fade out. Don’t attempt to lower the volume and intensity of the note at the same distance from the mic. Hit the note strong. Hold the note strong, and move away. That ensures the same tonality of the note from start to finish. It will clash less with the supporting instruments, and require fewer takes when recording.
Are you the singer in your band? Are these tricks you use every rehearsal, recording and performance? If not, was this helpful? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Got an opinion? Let’s hear it below. Till then, see you at the next show!