Hey Stranger

Hey Stranger’s “Waited Out The Day”- 18 Months in the Making

Hey Stranger began recording a full length record in March 2010. It was finally available online in August 2011 and physically a few weeks after that. What took so long? I recorded 3 songs with The Hard Times in 8 hours of a Sunday afternoon. Why was this so different?

We did it the new old-fashioned way. That is, we spent time in advance of recording figuring out the best tempos for the tunes, and then recording vocal and guitar scratch tracks. In the 3 or 4 practices leading up to recording, we would take a few minutes out of an already busy practice to find the right tempo. Tony, our lead singer, then used those tempos to create the scratch tracks. We’d then go to multi-tracking where we recorded each instrument, one at a time, to those scratch tracks. This is where the bulk of the time went. (The last update I gave on recording was in September of 2011!) (more…)

The Week[end] in Rock: 11/12 – 11/20

Was:
Fri 11/12 gig with Hey Stranger at National Underground. The venue treated us very poorly and barely had their shit together. Super Mirage was so good! We crammed in 6 songs before they through us out. It was basically a basement show with an overpriced bar, but great people stayed to watch.
Sat 11/13 gig with The Hard Times in strong island. Suprisingly cool crowd, lots of dancing, bittersweet send off for Juan (bassist leaving for LA). Got noticed as a CTSka Alum. Accidental EP release party for “Two Bucks For Bob.” Details to come. I’m so impressed how fast The Frighteners have created a crowd and a following for themselves.
Sun 11/14 recording with Hey Stranger out in Queens. I sat in the producer chair for day 2 of horn recording. Really proud of what we got done today, lots of energy from the players today. Here’s a video I snapped on the ol’ blackberry of our horns bustin’ their asses. (more…)

Recording Update

The yet-to-be-named Hey Stranger recording is now 7 months along and more importantly about half way done. We joke about this being the band’s Chinese Democracy, but given the limitations of time, the availability of bandmates, our engineer and the studio, we’re not doing half bad. We started off in March and April with drums and bass and by summer we were recording vocals and guitars. Vocals and guitars I thought would wake the longest just given there’s more of them than anything else (lead vocals, backing vocals, clean ska guitars, distorted punk guitars, lead guitars, etc).

It’s been a really unique experience for me given that besides our loyal engineer and friend, Dave, I’ve been at more sessions than any other person. I’ve only missed one weekend of recording for a work commitment and the fact is it was probably for the better that I wasn’t there. I really enjoyed sitting in the producer seat for the times when I was there, judging takes, pushing people to play better, suggesting ideas and tackling the unexpected hiccups that come up along the way. I think from the start I wanted to be there for the whole thing and really own that producer role. However, it’s a Hey Stranger record, not a Jake record and I think not being there was good for the process. It was a heavy weekend with a lot to do and it means anything recorded that weekend was done in a different different atmosphere with a different vibe. These things matter. I will admit that it’s a little weird to have yet heard everything that was done during those sessions (I’ve gotten spoiled, our poor horn players haven’t heard much of anything yet!) so I’m somewhat nervous, but I have to trust the process and the creative minds that were present… and be prepared with a drink when I finally hear the mixes.

What’s left? A few small things have to be done on guitars and vocals but nothing that couldn’t be done in a couple hours. I actually have to go back and re-record bass. We got this far before realizing I’d screwed up playing a bars in one song. Then we just have to cram the horns into our Queens’ sweatshop. I’m very psyched though it just makes me that much more impatient to finish this record. I’m happy with the progress we’ve made and I think things sound great so far because we haven’t just rushed into completing anything.

We’ve been doing our best (we could be doing better, let’s be real) to blog and video blog about our time in the studio. We’ve got two videos so far with clips from recording, some goofy commentary and a lot of shirtless drummer.

I’m actually in the first clip, the background music is just from our demos we did back in March 2009. Download them now before we completely bury them:

I’m not in this second clip (it was recorded the weekend I wasn’t there) but it’s pretty funny and all the background music are rough mixes from the sessions:

The playlist I’ve been working to all day is about as manic as I’ve felt all day. More updates to come…

The Summer Gig and Show Post Part II

Since I first wrote my first post about summer gigs, I’ve played a few shows, been to a few shows, and booked a few more.

I still can’t get over how much fun I had with The Hard Times when we played a set of blues covers and classic ska/punk tunes with Vic Ruggiero of the Slackers (videos and more excitement here). I caught Common in Ft. Greene at a festival. It was great to finally see him, but he played a very short set, half of which was a cool (yet, too long) medley of classic hip-hop tunes. The opening acts were also pretty lame and I missed Soulive entirely, who I was there to see in the first place. I caught The Aggrolites with The Have Nots at Highline Ballroom, one of the few all ages venues in Manhattan where you can see bands that aren’t big enough to fill Irving Plaza and the like. The Have Nots killed it and A.G.G.R.O. played a great set, though I felt like the whole night was a little bit better a year ago, when I saw the same two bands and one more at the Mercury Lounge. It’s a smaller, more intimate venue, though not all ages. A few nights later, I caught half a set at the pizza place near me (Two Boots Brooklyn, nothing like Two Boots in Manhattan, go right now) from a new project called Grand Concourse, featuring Kevin Batchelor of The Skatalites, Rhianna, Batchelor Party, the list goes on, Johnny Meyers of The Stingers ATX, Gideon from Westbound Train, and Eddie Ocampo of The Stubborn All-Stars and The Jammyland All-stars, as well as some other amazing musicians I know I’ve seen before. They KILLED it.

(more…)

I’m Big in Baltimore, Likely Bigger In Japan

Richie Frieman writes for PensEyeView, a website that features an interview and profile of a different band every two days. These bands can be signed, unsigned, somebodies, nobodies, anybody. Richie was kind enough to feature many of the bands I worked with while I was at Rock Ridge Music. Like anywhere else, you talk to someone enough, and there’s a certain amount of banter that comes along. Soon after PEV covered OTiS, a band I’ve been working with independently, we got into a conversation about me what I was up to. Upon finding out that I used to work for Hillel and had recently accepted a job with Hazon, he offered me the chance to interview with him for his blog Tuned In for the Baltimore Jewish Times.

The full blog entry can be read here. He calls me a “magical multitasker.” Not sure I’d go that far but certainly appreciate the sentiments.

The whole affair caught me a little off guard. For all the interviews I’ve set up, I don’t know that I’ve ever been interviewed to this extent. I have to say it was a pretty cool experience though I don’t think I come off as nearly as exciting as any of the musicians for whom I’ve arranged interviews.

I do have to say I think it’s way cool any time my jewy life and music life interact or overlap. Look at Richie, who writes for these two different publications. I’ll also say that as much fun as it is to be in the background and be thanked by the people you work with, but it’s also nice to be in the limelight now and again and the public appreciation in this article feels great.

The Summer Gig Post

Summer is pretty much going to rock. This past weekend was The Slackers CD release show, The Specials are playing at the Central Park Summer Stage, Warped Tour has a handful of bands I’m psyched to see, The Aggrolites hit NYC the end of June, and most importantly I have a whole mess of gigs with more on the way.

Hey Stranger began recording back in March and will be working through the summer; stay tuned for details on that. Hey Stranger is also currently in search of horn players and a 2nd guitarist/vocalist. Email the band if you’re interested. The Hard Times finished a recording session recently and is the midst of mixing.

THE HARD TIMES

Friday, June 11, 2010, 7pm
Eastern District, 43 Bogart St, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY, L Train to Morgan
with The Forthrights, Royal City Riot, 1592, Silver Dollar, 100dbs
Facebook Event

Friday, June 18, 2010, 8pm
Rock N Roll Reggae Show
Death By Audio, 49 S. 2nd St. Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
L Train to Bedford, JMZ to Marcy
with Vic Ruggiero (The Slackers) – Solo performance of R n’R, Blues & Country
The Heavy Beat – PA. Reggae, Soul, Ska, Dub
& Vic backed by The Hard Times and guests for a set of classics by The Clash, Hank Williams, The Wailers, Elvis Costello, The Nods!
Agent Jay (The Slackers) spins Rock n’ Roll, Reggae, Rhythm n’ Blues & Ska!
Facebook Event

Wednesday, July 7, 2010, 8pm
The Forthrights Tour Kick Off Show
Eastern District, 43 Bogart St, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY, L Train to Morgan
with Vic Ruggiero, Chris Murray, The Forthrights,  The Bandulus
Facebook Event

Thursday, July 10, 2010, 9pm
Dirty Reggae Party VI
The Lake, 258 Johnson Ave, Brooklyn, NY
L Train to Montrose
with R-Tronika, The Bandulus, The Frighteners, Crazy Baldhead Sound System
Facebook Event

HEY STRANGER

Saturday, August 7, 2010
Version City Party
Knitting Factory, 361 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY
L to Lorimer, G to Metropolitan
Details TBA

More to come! As per usual, I’ll make a dozen changes to this once it’s posted as I get more information and catch mistakes…