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

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