Practice, practice…PRACTICE!!!

So why all this practicing?? Why so long to finally decide to start playing shows?? Those are very good questions I’d be happy to answer!

While recording Zeta Reticuli, a lot of arranging took place…A LOT! Whether it was a guitar part that just wasn’t right; a drum part that just didn’t groove or a vocal part that didn’t seem to pop – many parts were arranged and RE-ARRANGED during the recording process. Also, many of the songs were recorded in sections. Playing any given song from A-Z for any of us was a feat-n-a-half since they were arranged from A –  H – O – L – Y – C – O – W  back to A then finally to Z! Another thing to consider: these songs have less-than-usual vocal cadences, which made it a challenge for Josh to grasp at times. While recording, the breaths needed between the lines were not taken into consideration making it a challenge (for ANY singer) to pull off in a live setting – often times, having to cut lines short or mess with the cadences.

Now, aside from the technical aspects, there was also a very important one that was quite important for us to achieve, and that was chemistry. Although Alex and I had very apparent musical chemistry prior to recording ZR, bringing in another member as well as having to follow a backing track together through an in ear monitor setup gave us some extra challenges to overcome. For me, locking in with a “Super Virtual Bass” was a major challenge because of the un-organic factor – locking in with an instrument that feels mechanical tends to make you just that: mechanical. I have to say though, it definitely has helped to make us a more cohesive act, that’s for sure! With a click track (metronome sound) being there, there are NEVER any fluctuations in tempo. If some of us are tired or just not with it on any given day, it feels like we’re chasing the clicker – trying to keep up with something that has absolutely no quit in it. Some of these songs are quite a challenge for us as it is, and making sure everything is locked in is CRUCIAL. One part goes out (or off our mechanical maestro) and it all falls apart in an epic train wreck of thirty second, sixteenths and eleventeenth notes!
Gotta admit, it doesn’t happen often…but it doesn’t hurt to further slim down the odds of it happening 🙂

Another thing we really wanted to do was to practice on different stages/in different settings, and what better way to do this than to show up at some of Toronto’s dozens of weekly open mics! As a band, feeling comfortable together on stage is HUGE – as it is for every band out there.

All that practicing between four walls means shit if you can’t perform it comfortably on a stage as a confident team. If there are ANY environments where things can go wrong, it’s on a live stage! Sometimes you can’t hear each other, sometimes you can’t hear yourself, sometimes you need to be on your toes and heck… sometimes you need to deal with an inconsiderate drunk heckler! Because of our backing track, the setup is a bit more elaborate, so to be able to practice in a real world setting helped us feel confident about operating with our super virtual counterpart.

All in all, tightening up our act has been an awesome challenge, and it’s been FUN! We always have a great time together, and we work really well as a team. No egos, dictators or drama queens in this band – just three guys with the same goals. We work well as a trio, and for now, we’re keeping it that way to further our success AS a trio. That will definitely change in the future though – the thought of having a bass player to groove with and a wizard on the keys gives me goosebumps!!

Hey, you can’t get any more intense than being a band comprised of three Scorpios playing songs about extraterrestrial life, guardian angels and corporate demons!

Yours truly,

The Timekeeper King

The songwriting process for Zeta Reticuli – part four

For those who have heard Zeta Reticuli and wondered how its songs were recorded and arranged, here’s the fourth of a series of posts that will hopefully shed some light on these subjects. Many people have asked me these questions, so sharing this with the world seems quite right – our debut album would not exist without these crucial steps. Enjoy! here is part ONE, TWO and THREE in case you haven’t read them yet. Enjoy!

So having finally found our singer, we needed to get practicing! As things started progressing over the first few months of 2014, one thing was clear: we were on the verge of being ready to finally start recording our songs!! So in mid-March, we decided to meet at our usual place of business, Kisoya Sushi for a milestone discussion. Upon setting goals and making commitments, we decided to commence the recording process during the third week of March, 2014.

The first thing that needed to be recorded were the drum parts – which presented a few challenges. I envisioned BIG drums recorded in a BIG room with top notch microphones with a wicked, drum wizard engineer – doable being in Toronto, but at a high cost. The sound I was mulling over in my head was one that would have to be recorded at the best of the best by THE BEST. Also, many of the songs were still not 100% complete in terms of the arrangements, meaning that even MORE preparation would be needed to nail the drums as efficiently as possible. Being on a micro budget, I needed to figure out how to do this without compromising the sound (and our thin wallet). Having used samples in the past for demoing purposes AND having a Roland electronic drum kit at my disposable gave me a viable option: why not use high quality samples on the album?? After doing some testing and research, I had determined that Steven Slate drum samples would work best for the sound we needed to achieve. So I went ahead and fed my drums to an RME interface, ran it through the drum sampler software and went straight to work! In the end, we realized that recording the drums in a studio would have been absolutely impossible to get our final result: in the 7 months that it took us to record the album, about 40% of the parts we previously though we were keeping ended up being changed; in an hourly studio, at let’s say $65/hour, it would have required an immense major label-like budget. We were actually in the process of CREATING a sound, so our decision to use SSD was a sound one, probably one of the smartest and most efficient decisions we could have made given our crazy situation…hands down!

Now, I really have to admit: not recording the drums the traditional way really rubbed me the wrong way in the beginning. It took some time to convince myself that it was ok to proceed given my old school mentality for certain processes. In the end, it was actually more work to do it with samples than on my Yamaha acoustic kit. It was another huge learning experience full of trial and error that I have greatly benefited from. This experience taught me how to embrace technology, not resist it. Our next album will DEFINITELY be recorded the traditional way, not because the samples aren’t “cool” or traditional, but next time, we will be FULLY prepared; and preparation will be the key when recording another (and even better!) complex album like ZR. And since we now know our sound, it’ll make writing and arranging a whole lot easier and less time consuming ! 😉

As the drums were progressing, Alex and Josh came in whenever they could to record their parts. For Alex, using his Fractal Axe FX II and Music Man guitar, we’d plug into the RME interface and spend hours getting his parts just right. It’s hard to describe the patience and sheer determination Alex displayed during his sessions…it was amazing to witness! As for Josh, I had set up a vocal booth in a bedroom’s walk-in closet with a Neuman U 87 microphone (we eventually had to move to a bigger room though since it got WAY too muggy in there). He was quite the trooper given the fact that it got extremely hot in there and that it was ridiculously small. Having been in the band for such a short period of time and having never recorded vocals for an album in the past, his sessions were sometimes quite intense. He was always focused, prepared and full of energy – which made it an enjoyable process for both of us. One thing that blew me away was his ability to memorize all the lyrics – he NEVER had any cheat sheets to rely on during his sessions…having to memorize lines as an actor gave him the memory of a computer!

When things were about 75% complete, I had started adding the vocal harmonies and the many synth parts to the songs. To help accomplish the synths, I rented a Yamaha Motif XF6 keyboard as well as a Nord Electro 3 and started to go through their many sound libraries and customization possibilities. The process of finding the right sounds and then recording the parts took a little over 2 months (which unfortunately bled into the mixing phase), which in the end, turned out pretty damn good! Next was the bass. Ohhhhhh….da bass. What to do!? We had put in a TON of effort to find a bass player that could join us in our venture, but failed to do so after over 1.5 years of searching (what phenomenal bass player wants to join a start up band anyways?? lol). Even the paid session players we found couldn’t do it to our standards – the bass playing is very reminiscent of Geddy Lee/Billy Sheehan bass parts in some sections…our music was to be colored with bass licks that would scare most bass players away – and we couldn’t possible afford Lee nor Sheehan ;-). So we were faced with yet another dilemna. After going through many scenarios, Alex and I decided to go in the same direction as the drums: high quality samples. But they needed to be exceptional in every way…hence using the simply amazing Trillian Bass Module. Using this MIDI/Steam driven technology and countless hours and HOURS of work along with my ear for bass parts (my dad is a bass player – I’ve been hearing bass vibes since the fetal days lol), I managed to get them all sounding tight n’ stellar within a month (minus all the re-writing). In certain songs, many of the bass parts follow the guitar note for note, so I had to be very meticulous and consult Alex as much as possible to accomplish certain sections. But again, in the end, we were amazed at the results this technology yielded for us. One very important task for me was to make sure all the parts were playable on a five string bass, so that took some thinking and tinkering. All I can say is that our future bass player will have his work cut out for him lol

Next was the mixing. This was by far the MOST challenging for me. I go through some of it in THIS older post. In a nutshell, it was a massive learning curve with many challenges presenting themselves as things progressed. With an infinite amount of patience from within and from my family (bless their amazing hearts), I managed to get the mixing done in about 4 months.

It was meant to last less than a month, but having never mixed an entire album before, I obviously had NO idea how much learning and trial and error would be involved to finally get a mix just right given my limited knowledge and gear. In the end, I was at least 90% ok with the results. All the mixing was done with third party plugins (or VSTs) and absolutely NO traditional solid state outboard gear. I used DAW software called Reaper for both the recording and mixing. Mixing can be a virtually ENDLESS process – you’re never quite satisfied. Even to this day, there are still things I hear in all 9 ZR songs that make me shake my head, but there’s always a point where you need to say: OK, I’m DONE…stop touching the damn buttons and wrap it up already!! ;-p

So there…that’s how it all went down (well, as much as I can remember anyways). YEARS of work, patience and dedication = 9 songs that will be available to enjoy until the Earth is eventually consumed by our Sun lol. This is a prime example of how one can record a decent sounding album on a small budget, but it’s not for people who don’t have the extra time, TONS of patience, a willingness to learn a massive amount of stuff, a sense of humor and a genuine love for composition. It was indeed a huge undertaking, and has already set the pace for this band’s promising future. Thinking about doing this all over again is unfathomable, but with your support and our dedication to the art, our next album will no doubt be created in a more traditional way by the pros in a professional recording facility. The thought of JUST playing my drums – that means NO engineering, NO mixing, NO bass, and NO brain busting tasks and constant self-educating for the next album sounds like a pretty wickedly amaze-bawlz sweet deal to me! ;- )

Thanks for reading and for the amazing support! Hopefully we’ll catch you at one of our shows!

Sincerely,

Mario

The songwriting process for Zeta Reticuli – part three

For those who have heard Zeta Reticuli and wondered how its songs were composed and how WW came to be, here’s the third of a series of posts that will hopefully shed some light on the subject. Many people have asked me this question, so sharing this with the world seems quite right – our debut album would not exist without these crucial steps. Enjoy! here is part ONE and TWO in case you haven’t read them yet. Enjoy!

Having the same influences in terms of music, Alex and I immediately connected. Months go by, and after many arranging sessions, gigs and changes with this band, it became obvious that there were some definite differences of opinions in the direction and stylistic approach department. By April of 2012, the band had dissipated and there I was again, looking for more…more stage time with a new musical venture! Around the same time, I had already started to send some of my demos to Alex by email to see if he’d be interested in collaborating with me. To my surprise, he really liked what he heard (despite the fact that I was singing on the demos lol) and we immediately started working on the material. HERE is a fun combination of versions of Aurora and Halo put together to illustrate what kind of changes it went through over a period of three years (March, 2012 – Feb 3rd, 2015). 

Now since we lived in different locations, 80% of our arranging was done through email and chat, the other 20% through good old fashioned jamming. I would send Alex a song demo and then he would respond with a guitar part for a specific section. After months of going back and forth on songs such as Aurora and Halo, Time Machine and Highway, things were starting to take shape! One challenge we were having is that Alex would often come up with a cool pattern that needed a specific drum pattern, but living in a small apartment with my sweetheart made it difficult to set up and record those parts. Then came something I NEVER thought I would ever use – mostly due to what I had heard in the past, and being totally overwhelmed by it’s technical learning curb: MIDI drums. After Alex recommended Addictive Drums, I immediately tested it out. At first, I was thrown back by its samples and endless options/combinations, but after playing with it for a few days, I got comfortable and started applying it to demos for songs like Aurora and Halo, Moment Of Glee, Zeta Reticuli and Super Virtual. With a bit of patience, time and practice, I was able to create parts pretty efficiently, which then took our back and forth ways of arranging and writing parts to a WHOLE NEW level!

While all these creative ideas were being passed around on a daily basis, we were also looking for bass players and singers through friends, contacts and classified ads. Whenever we’d have an interested candidate, we would set up an audition at a local Rehearsal Factory and either jam on a cover and/or an original. Bass players were a RARE breed…especially ones who could play this music with ease and fluidity. Singers, on the other hand, were in abundance. But the right singer, not so much. We were graced by some talented individuals, men and women. Gender didn’t make a difference, we just needed someone with that certain “je ne sais quoi?” lol. Many singers found our music a bit difficult to syncopate themselves to due to its Progressive Rock nature. We would often send the singers a song without vocals with lyrics to have them dub their voice over a verse/chorus. Some really surprised us – but in most cases, their stylistic approaches wouldn’t fit with the music. On one occasion, we thought we had found the perfect singer. He has a very dominating voice with a deep, Rock type tone. Sadly, after a couple of months of working with him, we realized that he didn’t have the same amount of free time for music as we did, so we had to part ways. This arranging/writing + singer/bass player search process went on for 2 years…but we never lost hope. And it’s a good thing we kept going…

After going through an extensive amount of singers and a fair amount of bass players, we had decided to give our search a rest by the early Fall of 2013. We decided we’d just focus on arranging and writing. Besides, we had one particular song that was taking MUCH time and tinkering to complete (more so than the other 8), that song was none other than A Million Lies (we’ll elaborate on how this one was put together in a later post – this was Alex and I’s first FULL collaborative effort!). So the search eventually came to a grinding halt. The holidays were upon us and we were talking about resuming our search after the holidays when on December 5th, 2013 we received a message through our contact submission form. It was a short message, but it was clear: a singer had found us through all the local cyber rubble, despite the fact that we had stopped putting adds out for months. Little did we know that this short, yet curious message was submitted to us by The Weird & The Wonderful’s future voice – a voice and personality that would take all these compositions to the next level; a youthful, convincing, clean and dynamic element that only one person could bring to our original sound: Mr. Joshua Pivato.

HERE is an earlier blog post describing Josh’s warm welcome to the Wonderwagon 😉

Stay tuned for part four, were I’ll go into how we prepared Josh and ourselves for something that I consider to be the biggest undertaking of my life: the recording and mixing process for Zeta Reticuli!

– Mario

The songwriting process for Zeta Reticuli – part two

For those who have heard Zeta Reticuli and wondered how its songs were composed, here’s the second of a series of posts that will hopefully shed some light on the subject. Many people have asked me this question, so sharing this with the world seems quite right – our debut album would not exist without these crucial steps. Enjoy! HERE is the first part, in case you haven’t read it yet. Enjoy!

After going through this writing phase for a couple of months, I finally started to feel like the moments of inspiration were becoming less and less frequent – mostly due to life circumstances. Now having a wealth of compositions on paper and mp3 form, I slowly started to write drum/bass parts for them. Having been a drummer for many years, my ability to remember rhythms has always been quite good, therefore many of the rhythm patterns I envisioned for the songs would remain engraved in my mind for a few months before I could actually start recording them. This future “demoing” recording process would be all too familiar to me , as it was something I had done two years earlier…

Spring of 2008 – recording demos was so FUN!

while I was still in Moncton, New Brunswick. I did this while in the planning stages of heading West to Ontario. A really close friend of mine (and WICKED Blues guitar player!) Peter Melanson and I had set up some recording equipment in the basement of my duplex to record the drum parts for 11 of my original songs. Among these songs were Time Machine and Highway . To record the drum tracks, I had acquired a Yamaha AW4416 audio workstation from another good friend and fellow musician. Upon getting a few good microphones, we went straight to work. Little did I know that this would be the beginning of something I could have only imagined!

Back to Toronto/winter of 2008-2009, I finally had the time I needed to lay down the drums for my most recent compositions. To do this in an apartment building without

Winter of 2009 – recording drums again: electro style

getting much unwanted attention (and to avoid possible eviction!) I decided to record the drums with a Roland electronic drum kit. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of using electronic drums – mostly due to plain ignorance and
my inexperience with the technology, but I still pressed on (this anti-electronic drum mindset would change DRAMATICALLY in the years to come). So using a rented Roland drum kit, synthesizer, condenser vocal mic, guitar effect processor, my Tascam interface and laptop, I went ahead and recorded the demos from my tiny, 400 square foot bachelor apartment.

Once the demos were completed, I had an itch that needed scratching (no, it wasn’t a rash nor a nasty metropolitan bed bug lol), it was the need to play my drums on a stage and meeting some like-minded musicians! By that time, all my belongings had arrived from Ottawa, including my drums (I had lived in Ottawa for a year before moving to Toronto). I was getting the hang of living in Toronto, the moving/employment dust had settled, and I was ready to immerse myself in Toronto’s IMMENSE local music scene. So I started going to open mic jams around the city as well as putting wanted ads on Craigslist and musician classified sites. For nearly 2 years, I met and played with many talented individuals, and built some good relationships; but unfortunately, I hadn’t met “the” musicians I felt were ideal for me in terms of collaborating and working with in a long term music venture. During that time, I also handed my demos to some key individuals, but in the end, none had the ideal vision and stylistic creativity I was looking for. Patience is one of my virtues – so I vowed to keep meeting new musicians in hopes of eventually finding the right fit!

While skimming through online ads one late summer day in 2010, I had come across an interesting compilation of demos put together by an obviously talented individual looking for a drummer. Upon meeting him at a coffee shop in the downtown core, we immediately connected. We had the same musical visions and aspirations, and I felt that together, we could more than likely accomplish anything. Being an accomplished vocalist, he still needed to find a few more missing band members, so together, we eventually found a guitar player we felt we could work with. As the weeks went by, it was clear that we really enjoyed this individual’s company and energy, but it was also clear that his stylistic approach wasn’t what we were hoping for. Feeling like we needed to keep looking for the perfect guitar player, we kept our eyes peeled. In the end, things worked out really well: Another local guitar player, a Russian immigrant, being new to the city of Toronto was looking for a band to collaborate with – he had obvious skills and seemed to have experience and visions similar to ours, so we decided to arrange a meeting with him. Subsequent to us meeting our potential guitar player, our original guitar player decided to take up the bass – and he ended up being a natural at it…we were amazed and relieved to had been able to retain him as a valuable part of the band! Next order of business: Invite this new guitar player to audition for us. Our meeting with him had gone really well, and it was time for us to hear this guy in action!

Fast forward to his audition day. We all show up to the rehearsal space, getting ready to greet our potentially new band member. Upon entering the room, the same polite, soft spoken person we had met at a coffee shop greeted us and immediately started setting up his gear – but he seemed different: he seemed to be on a mission. He seemed very professional, confident and very comfortable with his equipment. It was also very obvious that he was eager to make some serious noise. Upon playing the first few ripping notes with his 7-string Musicman John Petrucci signature guitar, it immediately dawned on me that he would be someone I was REALLY going to enjoy playing music with. This was the day I was graced by the musicality of an individual who would accompany me on a journey I can only describe as being the most musically fulfilling, brilliant and life changing for me thus far. This was the day I first heard the unbelievable talent of Mr. Alex Katchkan.

For your entertainment, HERE is a video of the four of us performing at the Rockpile in Etobicoke on October 7th, 2011.

HERE is part 3, where I go into how Alex and I went through a journey filled with auditions and arranging for a period of almost three years, and how we eventually met the guy (quite by chance) responsible for the clean, youthful, enchanting yet powerful vocals that are heard on Zeta Reticuli – Mr. Joshua Pivato 🙂

– Mario

The songwriting process for Zeta Reticuli – part one

For those who have heard Zeta Reticuli and wondered how its songs were conceived, here’s the first of a series of posts that will hopefully shed some light on the subject. Many people have asked me this question, so sharing this with the world seems quite right – our debut album would not exist without these crucial first steps. Enjoy!

For today, I’ll elaborate on 8 of the 9 songs – A Million Lies being the exception because it was a collaboration between Alex and I and was written using a TOTALLY different approach. We’ll share that particular process with you in the near future 😉

8 of the 9 the songs on Zeta Reticuli were initially written on an acoustic guitar while sitting in a quiet area with a pen, paper and a handheld recorder while strumming full chords and humming simple melodies.

To the left: my old handheld tape recorder – used this one for years…finding a specific idea on this gem can be a daunting task. On the right: the recorder I started using in 2008: DIGITAL BABY! lol In my opinion, these (and/or some particular mobile apps that do the same job) are essential for serious songwriters 😉

It’s hard for me to believe that they all began as compositions that one could compare to Simon and Garfunkel/Jack Johnson, but for me, writing a vocal melody comes easier when I can hear all the notes of the chords being played. No power chords, no riffs…just full on chord strumming. The individual notes that make up the chords were like cues that lead me into my harmonic ideas. When coming up with chord patterns, I just went with my gut – I stuck with what made me feel good. Knowing a large amount of chords (using a book that had over 2000 chord formations) and not yet having learned ANY cover songs made me less prone to subconsciously incorporating a chord pattern/vocal melody I had previously learned. I’m in no way saying that learning cover songs can taint your originality, (alternatively, it could and more than likely will inspire you), but that just seemed to be the best approach for me, personally. To this day, I only know the acoustic version of 3 songs enough to play them from beginning to end: Closer To The Heart by Rush as well as Plush and Interstate Love Song by Stone Temple Pilots…that’s it lol. But I have to admit, some songs did end up having vocal melodies/chord patterns inspired by other songs, such as Highway and Aurora & Halo (as described in our Member Area‘s “lyrics and song facts”)

My biggest source of songwriting inspirations for Zeta Reticuli came when I moved to Toronto in the Fall of 2008. I was living alone in a small bachelor apartment; for a good amount of time, all I had was a mattress, plastic dishes, my small journalist type recorder, clothing and a wine colored Takamine acoustic guitar. Being on my own in such a colossal city, free to explore to my heart’s content all while discovering so many new and different things was the catalyst for a song writing explosion I did NOT expect! Of the many songs that came to light during this creative time, Zeta Reticuli and Super Virtual were among the ones conceived in that little apartment on Ontario street. And again, I used the same “acoustic guitar, recorder and note pad” approach. I would sit on my fifth story balcony at night (it was surprisingly quiet at night in that particular area of downtown Toronto) while staring out at the massive buildings and I would just let the ideas flow. As ideas came to mind, I would press record and capture absolutely everything that gave me that unmistakable feeling – the feeling that I had stumbled on to something great!!

Check out PART 2, where I go into how I ended up creating rough demos to distribute to select Toronto musicians, eventually leading me to the man responsible for Zeta Reticuli’s more powerful, complex and aggressive qualities: Mr. Alex Katchkan 🙂

– Mario

 

A recording tip!

To me personally, making a record can be compared to the process of finding the truth – it is challenging, demanding and thrilling all at the same time. Like a scientist with the questioning mind, who is looking into chaotic empirical data for the search of systematic consistency, you look into your consciousness in an attempt to intuitively grope a musical idea that best resonates with your current state of mind. It takes self-discipline to keep the pace all the way from start to end and it requires a genuinely positive attitude to be able to enjoy every moment of this process.

All of us adhered to an unofficial rule: we had to be free from any negativity during the entire recording/mixing process.  Recording equipment tends to rectify emotions that a musician has while their part is being recorded. If you feel indecisiveness and hesitation, that is exactly what listeners will feel when listening to your performance, it might not be too obvious, but it will be seized by their subconsciousness.  Alternatively, if you feel like you can jump across an ocean with total ease, your takes will sound bright and confident.  Most of the recording sessions were like that – immaculate and productive. Of course, there were some periods when I felt like I couldn’t go on – but hey, I’m only human! In these cases, despite any obligations and time restrictions, you just want to be honest with the band members and yourself – give a call and reschedule your recording time. By doing that you actually save more time.)

Alex recording his takes for Zeta Reticuli. Black socks work best for muting strings!

The guitar recording process was also challenging from time to time. I find that one of the most imperative things while composing and recording is to be able to revise your own musical ideas, riffs, and phrases. It takes a lot of courage, at least for me, to admit that the idea doesn’t fit the song – even though I love that idea. I tend to “verify” my ideas the next morning by having a listen before I do anything else for the day. If I feel the same way about the piece of music I came up with and recorded on the previous day – it’s a keeper! If I’m not very proud of what I hear, I keep digging for that golden idea. And some of our recording sessions were very exhausting both physically and emotionally.  Each take that you do requires a lot of resources from your inner strength – it feels like you’re on stage giving it 110% for every take – because it needs to sound perfect! And I literally can’t stop until it’s recorded the way I feel it should be recorded. After 6-8 hours of such an intensive workout, I wasn’t able to say a sentence coherently, so Mario had to desperately guess what I was trying to tell him by interpreting my mumbling and gesturing. But despite the tiredness, I had a warm feeling of an accomplishment after each session.

I truly believe we have made every possible attempt to reflect a wide colorful range of emotions on this record. I was relishing every moment of its creation and can endlessly listen to it over and over again even though I know every note inside out. These 9 songs might be appealing to a regular listener, to an experienced music lover, or even to a picky musician. I’m probably being bias here by saying all this, but I feel that I did my best during that period of my life. We are welcoming you to enjoy the ride of a Progressive Rock roller coaster that takes you into the Seventies and whisks you back to the present!

Alex – “Mad Jester”

 

 

Something weird is happening, and it’s definitely wonderful…

Josh recording his takes for Zeta Reticuli

So much time, so little to say – Strike that, reverse it. Hello to all! Sometimes the lineality of life ceases to exist, and instead the Universe takes control and brings about something that seems both out of nowhere, and yet so right.

The Weird & The Wonderful  just so happens to be one of those things. Being a part of this group of “Sonic Scientists” simply just makes sense. It’s a place I know my soul now longs to be and fuel with life-force energy. It’s been unforgettable, climbing aboard. The music. Creating the first of the music has been both an incredible learning process, and a major outlet for passion that has been kept up inside of me for quite some time. Other than recording vocals at home for demos on a ‘snowball’ microphone, this is the first time that I’ve realistically underwent the recording process of an album – and a process, it is! But, with the expert ears, direction and patience of my band mates Alex and Mario, it was a process that was calm, collected, and fulfilling in every way. It was important during this time to take extra care of my voice – this meant everything from adequate vocal rest, diet and also general mood and energy levels. Rehearsing the songs was an ongoing measure to ensure the best quality for the final recording takes. Each song took on a new energy for me and through countless hours of recording takes, it was important to tap into that energy and to maintain it, all while focusing on the technicalities of the vocals as well – a great challenge. When certain takes worked, you knew they worked; the music felt right. I feel that through the precision of this work and the discoveries made mid-recording, I now understand my voice and the process of recording it, much more. I foresee great times ahead for us, and for everyone we will get to reach with our work in the very near future! Talk soon, and Keep On Watching !

– Joshua

The anatomy of a DIY album!

In mid-April, 2014 we set out to record 9 amazing songs. We knew it wouldn’t be easy and perfectly streamlined since we are all in different locations around Greater Toronto ranging from 30 minutes to

Recording mode

over an hour’s drive. The entire recording process took place in my home studio in Mississauga for a period of almost 6 months. I thought it was going to be relatively easy. Sweet jeebus…I was DEAD WRONG! But quite frankly…WHAT a learning (and humbling) experience it was!! It was so nice to casually chill out while being in the comfort of a private home. I’m used to going to a studio while on the clock, all while being under pressure to get those award winning takes whether I’m tired, drunk or just plain grumpy. Stressful? Yes my friends, it can be VERY stressful!

Among the countless sessions, there were really muggy days that made it feel like we were recording in the Amazon Jungle; days when we were all just beat, tired and ready to retire after an hour of recording but pressed on like Navy Seals; days of extreme energy and productivity and good laughs; days of coffee, days of fancy organic tea (Alex loves tea…and is an avid tea bag recycler); days when the engineer (this guy) forgot to press record when a phenomenal take was being performed; days when we were all there together to feed off each others vibe; days when a great take would be ruined by the horrifying screams of a dictating toddler losing ultimate control over all that is; days when we sat outside in the sun talking about everything BUT music and forgot about the session (aliens, conspiracy theories, workout regimens and desserts were among the subjects discussed); and those fine days when everything was just right and we’d all get those goosebumps you get when you hear something uniquely awesome! Those were the days we live for \m/

 

Josh and I taking a break at one of our recording sessions.

 

After that process was done, the mixing started: well…now there’s a beast you don’t want to tackle without the right stuff! And when I say stuff, it don’t just mean software and hardware…it also means the mental and physical aspect of mixing, because sitting in a chair for 8+ hours days at a computer while listening to sound constantly can get to you. My mixes were always sent to the other two members through email to be sure everything resonated with them. We had some pretty big challenges along the way, but overcame them all with an eventual six thumbs up. The mixing process lasted approximately 5 months. Then, on January 9th 2015, we made our final review and with a huge sigh of relief, we officially put the mixing behind us!

Since the next step takes a very specialized skill, we decided to let the pros handle this task. Having said that, on February 3rd, our 9 masterpieces were mastered for digital release by Mike Smith at Phase One Studios in Scarborough, Ontario. There was alcohol, there were shenanigans and there was a tad of silliness (ask Alex about his “naked” fries), and it was well deserved! The songs we’ve managed to produce for you are simply AMAZING! I know, I know…every band in their right mind says this about their songs, don’t they?! I guess you’ll just have to judge for yourself.

It’s happening. It’s incredible. It’s nothing like anything you’ve ever heard in your lifetime: 9 tales that will take you on a journey you will never, ever forget.

Thanks for reading and talk to you soon!

– Mario

 

Singers are not a rare breed…yet the perfect singer for this band certainly seems to be – but screw the odds, because we FINALLY found him!!

Our search for a singer has been long and difficult. MANY talented individuals have come forth with great ideas and much enthusiasm, but none really fit the part like we always imagined it. In the Fall 2013, we decided to take a break from our search and concentrate on songwriting and the finalization of a few more songs.

2014 was upon us, and as we were approaching the day destined to be the beginning of the second part of our search, we received an unexpected message. It was as follows:

Hey there… Unclear of whether or not you are still actively seeking a vocalist… But if you are, I could send you some of my vocal covers to get an idea. I really dig your songs that I’ve heard, I think I may be able to inject an interesting vocal element to them.. If you’re still seeking that is. My main vocal influences are Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Steve Perry n Elvis Presley. Lemme know, take care and all the best

Josh

We hadn’t received any replies from singers in a few months, obviously since we hadn’t been looking, so we were definitely caught by surprise. Could this be the guy we’ve been looking for?? Emotional, powerful, talented, enthusiastic and all of the above – this guy fit the profile to a T!  After listening to his demos, we immediately contacted him and began our audition process…and the rest is history!!

We’d like to proudly welcome Joshua Pivato to our team of Sonic Scientists!!

Stay tuned for his exceptional voice coupled with our powerful songs as we complete the first half of our highly anticipated first album!

Talk soon,

– Mario

The perfect singer is out there – and we’re GOING TO FIND YOU!!

In late October, after having put enough songs together to illustrate WW’s musical variety, we set out to find the perfect singer to bring these (and many more to come 😉 original compositions to life. So far, MANY talented musicians have come forward through our ads and word of mouth with much enthusiasm, but “THE ONE” individual hasn’t come forward yet. How long will it take? As long as it has to!! Now, a bit about the vocals you’re hearing now:

The instrumentation for the songs came easy – well, some more than others. The most difficult task was to put the vocals together. My vocal teacher told me that there is a probability that my vocal chords may have been damaged in past – at least that’s the impression she got during our initial assessment session – but it certainly was NOT from singing. On top of that, singing does not come naturally to me, therefore I seldom sang in the past. One thing that does come naturally to me is writing melodies. As frustrating as is was laying down the melodies in my head while straining to NOT be pitchy with as much power and expression as possible, it all came to pass after many hours of patience and perseverance behind one of my old, beat up SM57’s (yes, I know, NOT the best mic for vocal recordings…but hey, I’m a drummer, and I use drummer mics!)

So I hope the singing on these recordings doesn’t or already HASN’T scared people away. My vocal teacher effectively helped me develop my singing over the last year or so, she’s amazing. You should have heard me BEFORE the lessons lol. But to give myself credit where credit is due, I can sing harmonies quite well…maybe it’s because of that nice, shiny security blanket made of wood, steel, mylar, bronze brass and nickel 😉

Having said all that…if you know a singer or you happen to be a singer that could possibly fit our needs, please contact us through the posting. Thanks for reading and to all, safe and memorable holidays…the world hasn’t exploded after all! 😀

– Mario