Ravenous, Rabid and Devouring

There is something innately moving about watching a live performance of your favorite band. The intimacy of seeing the artists in person makes the impact of their music a visceral experience. A lot of people even experience chills and goosebumps as the neurotransmitter dopamine floods through the body. For others, the stimulus can be so overwhelming that they faint, as seen in video of Michael Jackson concerts.

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Pig Mouth @ The New Globe Theatre

As a performing musician, I am drawn to live performances much more so than recordings. At gigs, I am able to appreciate stagecraft and the virtuosity of the artists as they play in front of me. The ability to put on a show and entertain, rather than just play your instrument, gives the performance so much more impact. I incorporate showmanship when playing live with my own band.

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HGRS SoundCloud banner logo

Whilst driving, I am usually listening to new music on SoundCloud in order to discern different audio mixing and production techniques by listening. It is a great way to train my ears by picking out individual parts of songs, such as mentally isolating the snare drum or EQ shape of a guitar. By doing this repetitively, it reinforces the neural pathways between my ears and brain, enabling me to listen more critically. An essential skill for any Audio Engineer to develop. (Hired Gun Recording Studio)

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recordingrevoloution YouTube

I spend a lot of time watching YouTube channels of audio professionals to gain a deeper understanding of Audio Engineering. YouTube has been an extremely valuable educational tool (also a source of many wasted hours) that I have used to improve as a musician, learn more about new equipment or software and discover new production techniques.

Social media sites enable me to stay informed about new events, gigs, the local music industry and new musical gear that I wish I had the time to try. They are also great platforms to engage with fans of my band and followers of my studio. (Facebook, Twitter)

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Inside Hired Gun Recording Studio

My voracious consumption of media has been extremely beneficial to me by keeping me well informed and greatly improving my skills as a guitarist and Audio Engineer. Through the media that I use, I have learned many useful techniques and will continue to seek out knowledge.

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Opening My Third Eye

Judged by name alone, the band Tool seems a likely name for a metal band, however, there is much more to this ensemble than a simple four letter word. At a casual glance, you may only hear angry vocals and distorted guitar, but that is only scratching the surface. They are largely responsible for my musical influence.

History

Tool was formed in 1989 and came up through the Los Angeles music scene, rehearsing and playing clubs and bars for two years until they were signed by Zoo Entertainment. They released the album Opiate and toured supporting acts such as Rage Against the Machine, Rollins Band, and Fishbone. The quartet consists of; vocalist Manard James Keenan, lead guitarist Adam Jones, bass player Justin Chancellor and drummer Danny Carey. Each member of the band is an accomplished musician with their prodigious talent recognized by being awarded three Grammys and two Grammy nominations. I first became aware of the band in 1995 when my brother Joel played their album titled Salvial. Instantly I was captivated and have been a fan ever since.

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Dissectional art for Tool’s Lateralus CD by Alex Grey

Art

The music they create is perfectly matched by the unique visual art used on their album covers and in the hypnotic animations used in their music videos and live shows. Adam Jones directed the band’s music videos and assisted various artists with their creation. Similarly, I aspire to collaborate multi-disciplinarily in order to manufacture an audiovisual sensory feast to enhance the live performance of my own music.

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Tool live in concert at Tulsa 2016

Performance

During shows, Maynard will sing to the rear of the band partly hidden in shadow, often singing to the backdrop; Danny will be on a drum platform to the mid-right of the stage; Adam and Justin will take front stage left and right respectively. It is an unorthodox stage setup, however, it takes the focus off the band and onto the music. A Tool concert will generally be very loud, transcending the audience’s general exposure to music, and in conjunction with the animations, gives the performance enhanced visual impact. Whilst my own band’s positioning is relatively traditional, we engage our audience with energetic stagecraft, jumping from speakers and into the crowd.

Music

Extensive use of odd time signatures gives a certain feeling of freedom, endowing Tool’s music with an immersive quality. Experimentation with lyrical themes, polyrhythms, uncommon percussion instruments and guitar effects, pushes the boundaries of the clichéd word “genre” to its limits. Analysis of the song Lateralus reveals the creative use of the Fibonacci number sequence, for the rhythm of the music and delivery of the vocals. Inspired by their meaningful songwriting, I have been able to draw on significant events from my life as inspiration when composing my own music. In particular, the song War Torn draws upon the emotional impact of taking human life in the name of survival.

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Myself performing at Ric’s Bar 2016

Summary

Tool is exceptional. The band is both profound musically and glorious in is uniqueness. They are currently in the studio recording a new album due for release early 2018. Thanks to their influence, my pursuit of knowledge about recording and producing quality music inexorably propels me towards the field of Audio Engineering.

“You really should be able to feel the higher power of music and be moved by it, rather than listening to me waffle on and having to explain it.” Maynard Keenan in an interview, Sonic Evolution With the Use of Tool. (1996, November). Boston Globe.