We're 27% there folks! Great job! It has been a lot of fun seeing the contributions light up my phone and reaching out and chatting with those of you who have backed our campaign. This is happening! Thank you so much!
Clint Buck and I got together this past Sunday and played 14 love songs in my living room while having brunch. It's a long video, so if you'd like to skip along to your favorites, the set list is below. Happy Valentine's Day!
- Just What I Needed - The Cars
- Ask - The Smiths
- Stand By Me - Ben E. King
- Sink to the Bottom - Fountains of Wayne
- I Think We're Alone Now - Timmy James and the Shondelles
- Brand New Key - Melanie
- Baby One More Time - Britney Spears
- Roll To Me - Del Amitri
- Fields of Gold - Sting
- I Feel Fine - The Beatles
- The Idea of Growing Old - The Features
- You Got Lucky - Tom Petty
- I Will Always Love You - Dolly Parton
- You Got It - Roy Orbison
Song: "The Label On Your Sleeve"
After I left Austin in 2006, I had a "regathering" type of moment where I hung out in my apartment in Arlington and listened to and (tried) writing and recording as much as I could. I was working a job close by where I was making a little bit more money and after hitting up open mics in Dallas and traveling to see many of my favorite bands live, I had a good idea of where I wanted my "sound" to go and what I was capable of.
I had just heard Arcade Fire at ACL 2006 and remembered loving the kind of serious but high tension mood their droning, repetetive verse beat style. Driving, disco "four-on-the-four" like you had a drummer stuck on the roof and told him to beat his kick and not to stop until the record is done.
This was fully fleshed out in my parents's garage on Christmas Eve of 2007. The original title of the song was "Pennant" like the kind of university pennant you might see at a 1950's college football game. I had the lead melody and the "theme" of the tune in my head for some time. I could hear it like it was bells or trumpets playing-something "glorious" and heralding like a fight song at a football game.
The drums aren't real. They are individual drum sounds from a Casio keyboard I played live into the recording to the click track. I could never get the drums to sound quite right, but they are passable. When I play this song live, I find myself wanting to go quite a bit faster and sing more like David Byrne. I wanted joyous, but "high tension."
The lyrics are about getting close and physical--how sometimes the first touches are the strangest and weirdest--with another person. It's kind of like that weird "touching" thing a teenage guy might do at the movies while he's got his arms crossed--it's that little "I want to hold your hand" motion. I'd like to know the over-under on that weird "touching" thing those guys are doing.
This is the first of many songs I would write trying to imitate The Features. Funny story: I posted this on The Features Fans online community board and no one responded. I suppose listening back it sounds a little rough, but still not bad for where I was in the process of learning to write songs and record them.
I feel the warmth inside your cashmere
I only wish I was the label on your sleeve
Maybe then I could be next to you
But instead I'll have to dream of ways to be
Close to you
So here it is in its full glory:
Two great producers were given the stems to the song "A Werewolf's Been There" from the upcoming record Rescue. Which sounds better: A or B? Follow the Soundcloud link below to listen to WEREWOLF A vs WEREWOLF B
During my junior year in college, I lived in Glasgow, Scotland studying abroad at the University of Glasgow. One of the first things I did after settling in to the neighborhood was finding a local music store and buying an acoustic guitar. One of the easiest ways to find other musicians and make friends is finding a local open mic to play. I got lucky in this respect as there were many open mic nights at nearby pubs and student unions and some of the pubs hosting them even offered a free pint for musicians who performed.
One of the open mics I played was a pub called Whistler’s Mother (named after the famous painting from James McNeill Whistler). The host was a guy named Andrew McGregor who ran the open mic with his friend Lindsey. They played mostly cover songs to start the open mic and created a very friendly and inviting atmosphere. Andy’s brother Stuart tended bar and was also a talented musician with his own band. The first night I played open mic at the Whistler’s I had the notion to let my freak flag fly a little and play some weirder, original songs. I made some sort of impression on Andy (not necessarily a good one) and he approached me afterward and talked about music and recording. He invited me to his home studio located in his dad’s print shop in a town about an hour away called Largs.
I met him early on a Saturday morning next to the Whistler's Mother. I had my guitar, a tuner, and a notepad with ideas for a couple of tunes I wanted to record. He picked me up in his small red hatchback and we headed for his little seaside hometown of Largs.
What a nice, interesting fellow musician! Here he was, getting up early on a Saturday morning. How cool was this situation I stumbled into simply by playing at an open mic?
On the way out of town, Andy turned to me and asked: "Hollis, did you know I'm a viking?"
Panic immediately set in as I thought how dumb it was to get in a car with a Scottish stranger. "I'm about to be kidnapped, or murdered, or molested, or all three," I thought.
Andy continued: "Largs has a viking museum as it was the last point of entry when the vikings invaded Scotland. I give tours and bang a battle axe on a shield and scare the wee kids. My viking name is 'Ragnor'."
I started breathing again taking comfort in the fact that the worst Andy would do to me is attack me with a medieval weapon (which he later confirmed he possessed).
We drove an hour to his home town of Largs along the coast of the island--a beautiful little sea-side Scottish shire with plenty of gambling machines and places to eat fish and chips. I expected we would record in Andy's garage at his house or maybe set up a few microphones in a living room, which is why I was so confused when we pulled up to what turned out to be a print shop.
Andy’s home studio just happened to be located in his father’s print shop: a larger warehouse with printing technology ranging from large, laser printers to century-old printing machines with moveable type. The “studio” was located in a closet. Inside the closet was a large, custom-built computer running some version of Cubase which required a USB dongle to be inserted into the computer while running (remember the days?), a tall chair, a control surface with the model name of “Houston” (perhaps to launch a rocket, Andy frequently joked), a 88-key midi keyboard, and some cables hanging carefully from nails equidistantly plunged into the shelving unit above the keyboard.
It didn’t look like much, but I knew that great recordings had been done with less, so I was happy to throw my songs in Andy’s hands to see what kind of recording we could get.
Watching Andy work was stunning. He was an incredible piano player, and knew how to coax all sorts of great sounds from his keyboard. He also worked quickly and efficiently on the Houston. It was amazing to watch him work. When we think of recording engineers working in a studio, we get the image a guy passively moving faders up and down and twisting knobs occasionally—not so with Andy. After every track was recorded, Andy's real work began with editing, mixing, and doing the work of a producer to guide the song idea into a recording which would sound even better than what I could have dreamed. That is one of the real challenges of a producer. While an artist may come to the table with the component parts and ideas for a song or album, the monumental technical and artistic task largely resides with the person in charge of running the recording session. Perhaps an artist may come into the studio with an idea of a song he wants to sound like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” but what part of that hit and his or her song does that likeness intertwine? Is it the killer, memorable guitar riff? Is it the vocal sound of 90’s teenage angst? Is it an ineffable mood aspect of the song that inspires him or her to make that comparison? Such is the challenge and the heroics of a good, competent recording engineer and producer. In professional settings these roles are usually separate, but for the more budget projects all these roles are relegated to the songwriter who might be recording the album on his own.
I fought a fight internally for a while for Rescue over whether I should complete each stage of the recording process with a professional: going to a professional studio and having an engineer record and mix the tunes; maybe having a figure in the local music scene with a particular and apparent talent for recording and production produce the record—guide the record into something worthy of attention. In the end I chose to serve these roles by myself not be because I thought I could do them better but because I wanted the time to learn and do it myself. While I will certainly be calling on professionals to help me finish the record, part of the “artistry” I hope people get from the album is a DIY aesthetic and a sense of artist growth.
I am better for doing this album and I am better for all the different people I have learned from (ahem…a one Andrew Robert McGregor). It is special for me to do the recording part of this project by myself, but there is no way I could have done it without the experience of learning from talented professionals.
If you want to record. find someone great in the studio and learn everything you can from them. What does their workflow look like? What special techniques do they employ on each track recording? How thorough are they? Do they make you do lots of takes until a line is clean and performed well? What can you steal from them (ideas and techniques--not actual property or equipment).
Happy New Year! I love celebrating and thinking about the upcoming year during January--then I promptly break all my resolutions between February through December. Here are my musical resolutions for this year. Will you help me keep them? What are your resolutions for 2017--musical or otherwise?
1. Go see more live, LOCAL shows - There are so many amazing things happening with music in San Antonio that it gives me a renewed sense of urgency to find allies and inspiration in this beautiful town. When I was in Lubbock, I had a history with the city--I'm attempting to build these things here in San Antonio and part of that is engaging and supporting the artistic community that is already here working.
2. Play more live shows - As I've gotten older I find myself going inward, headphones on doing recording and playing mostly at the house and with close friends. This needs to stop. As much as I'd like to invite everyone to take the magical journey with me through my recorded songs, people want to hear live music and they want to be amazed.
3. Make better music - I want to try to actually improve and learn more this year on my instruments, vocals, guitar, trombone, and recording. I want to expand my range and technical ability in these areas.
4. Take care of my most important instrument - I've always said the most important instrument a musician has is his ears, but I'm expanding to include the entire body for this post. As musicians, many of us forget that there is a physicality (or should be) to the art of creating music. We have to make physical exertions and movements to sing, play guitar, and especially for horn and woodwind instruments. I look forward to really do the things (and not do the other things) this year to take care of my health and make these musical "exertions" sound better.
5. Release "Rescue" - This recording I'm sitting on has been like a musical unicorn for me, and not in a magical, colorful fantasy-horse way either. It's officially been almost six years since I started writing these songs. They are almost done but little nagging things keep me from just doing it. There is the desire to release on vinyl, which increases cost. There is the want for the songs to have it mixed professionally--to have a guiding hand mix the tunes in the most appetizing way for someone to listen.. there is also the dream of having the perfect album graphics to package up this group of songs like a beautiful Christmas present waiting to be opened. These are just a couple of the things that represent a lot of time and money that should be spent on this project--this beautiful, aged project desperate to be released on the world.
Below is a little video of Auld Lang Syne I recorded a few years ago.
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Your definitive 2016 gift guide for musicians if you are short on time and money.Read More
Merry Christmas from Hollis Webb and the Reindeer Games!
This year will be a new kind of Christmas for me. First, this will be the first Christmas day I will not spend with my family. I'll be enjoying the run up to Christmas with my fiancee's family here in San Antonio and then I will fly the day after to get ANOTHER Christmas with my family in Dallas. I get TWO Christmases! HO HO HO!!!
Looking back, I reflect with the soundtrack of holiday music in my head. For the past few years, Clint Buck and I have taken on the name of the Reindeer Games and for the month of December we churn out the holiday hits whenever we get an opportunity. When this time of year comes around we break out the holiday song book and I think and speak a lot about the tunes. So because I get TWO Christmases (and hopefully get TWICE AS MANY PRESENTS), I'll be discussing two Christmas carols I've thought about especially this year.
The first is "O Holy Night," a traditional song composed by Adolph Adam in 1847. According to the story however, the lyrics were written by Placide Cappeau, a wine merchant and poet (of course he was a wine merchant and poet, because what other kind of day job could you have as a songwriter in the 19th century?). The thing that is interesting about this is that Cappeau was commissioned to write the words (or the poem) and he was not a Christian or very interested in religion at all. I believe this song and the lyrics are some of the most beautifully written in western music and what is particularly poignant to me is the sense of desperate hope conveyed in the tonally ascending tune. He was able to tap into something amazing through his poetry in this song, despite being sentimentally removed from it. The lyrics which inspires me the most this holiday season come from this song:
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Some of us have had a tough year and our souls feel weary. We may feel as if this past year and coming years stand tall as an insurmountable wall of heartache and disappointment--but we press on and celebrate with gratitude for our family and those we love and who love us. This is the "thrill of hope." The new and glorious morn is breaking before us--we just have to lift our heads and hearts to see it. We can lift others up as well even if our weary souls may not be rejoicing right now. There is no greater power than the ability to empower others to do great things. This is my thrill of hope. What is yours?
The second song I've thought about and played is "I'll Be Home for Christmas"--first sung by Bing Crosby with lyrics by Kim Gannon. The singer of the song is writing a letter to his family listing off his favorite Christmas traditions so that they will have them ready for him by Christmas. It isn't until the last verse when we learn he'll only be coming home in his dreams.
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams.
There are many people and families this year who may not get to spend Christmas with the folks they love--for them, the holidays can be a tough time of trying to celebrate, but having the pain of missing someone dear to them. This season, reach out to the ones you love and the ones who need love the most. Be thankful for the bounty of blessings and riches we have right now, in this moment.
So I want to wish you out there a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays from me and the Reindeer Games. Try to get out and let your "love light" gleam for someone.
The Reindeer Games have a Christmas album, if you'd like to hear Clint Buck and I crooning holidays tunes over your stereo speakers. Click here to purchase the download.
If you'd like to book the Reindeer Games for your holiday event or to surprise someone with a special caroling treat here in San Antonio, click here to book the Reindeer Games!
As always, We appreciate and love you all so very much. Thank you for listening to our music and have a happy 2017!
This took place at the Cactus Theatre in Lubock, TX with my first band: Tomorrow's Yesterday (or as we were known at the time "The Hushpuppies").
This was our FIRST show. It was a benefit or something for a "say 'no' to drugs" thing or something like that. Look at that glorious hair and Kurt Cobain-inspired cardigan!
Clint and I playing as the Reindeer Games had a lot of fun last Friday night at the Christmas Spectacular at J&O's Cantina. We passed out lyric books and everyone sang along to all of the holiday hits. Thank you to everyone who came out! Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!
One of the unexpected joys of my musical journey came to me in the form of home recording. What I believe makes DANGER INVITES RESCUE a great and interesting project is the fact that it was recorded on technology that is essentially available to anyone with a decent laptop computer. Like a lot of musicians in my age range, my first experience with DIY recording was making a demo on an analog 4-track machine. My first band, Tomorrow's Yesterday, had been playing and performing for about 3 years when the rock radio station (FMX 94.5) in our sleepy west Texas town of Lubbock, TX announced an under 21 battle of the bands to occur during our city's July 4th celebration downtown. We kicked ass and won real studio recording time (but that experience will be addressed in a future post). FMX required all bands submit a cassette demo to enter the competition. It's strange to think now that this was still in the time when cassette was the popular format for independent musicians to record.
We gathered in our drummer's basement--our regular Sunday afternoon rehearsal spot--and set up couch cushions, blankets, and mattresses to isolate the instrument amps, vocals, and drums. While the consumer recording technology we used offered the ability to layer tracks, we chose to perform the songs live to get as good and tight of a sound as possible. It sounded…about as as good as you would expect a high school band’s demo to sound from 1997. Listening to it now is a little cringe-worthy, but it served the purpose of getting us into the Battle of the Bands.
A good demo is good as long as it gets your band or songs where they need to go. The technology to record yourself has never been cheaper or easier to use. All Apple Macintosh computers ship standard with the amazing Garageband application which is as easy to use as Mario Paint (80’s throwback—holla). I have heard incredible albums recorded using this program, so you don’t need a studio full of fancy mics and ProTools to get a good recording. There are many resources available for cheap or no cost to help you get on the road to making really great music in a home studio.
The album I am currently recording, Rescue, will likely be the last record I record using my home studio. When the record is done I’m having a fire sale on my equipment and will likely not have the ability or space to have the studio I have now, SO…I am offering my recording and production services for a limited time in my home studio, The Bear Haus, to songwriters and bands who need to get a really great-sounding demo. Click on the Bear Haus Recording link above and purchase blocks of 8 hours of studio time for just $100!
Thank you again for your time and support. Go out and make some music yourself and share it.
Happy Holidays! I wanted to take a moment to write a special message, update the website, and let you know about some exciting things for this month as well as the new year. First, I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving gorging yourself on turkey and watching your favorite NFL team lose while your drunk uncle made questionable assertions about Syrian refugees. Thanksgiving means friends and family--certainly there is a reason those are both "F" words.
Second, the venerable Clint Buck and myself will be playing a special Christmas show on Friday, December 11th at J&O's Cantina here in San Antonio, TX. We will be playing as our special Christmas band: The Reindeer Games. Come out and hear our take on your favorite Christmas tunes and feel free to sing along! Make a joyful noise!
Finally, in October we laid down drum tracks with the incredible Mark Henne for Rescue at my home studio The Bear Haus. Danger Invites Rescue is a 3 album/EP home recording project I started in 2008. You can visit the Bandcamp link to pick up a CD or high quality digital download of Danger and Invites. Rescue, the final recording in the series, is scheduled to be released next year. This recording will be the most developed and full-sounding recording I have ever made. I am getting a lot of help from my very talented musical friends to complete it and we will need your help and support to get it pressed to VINYL! We will be looking at some crowdfunding options with very cool rewards, so please stay tuned and be saving your shekels to get something good from what we are cooking up.
As always, THANK YOU for supporting independent music. Whenever Clint and I play out as Buck Webb or The Sleuth, we are always thrilled to see familiar faces come out to hear new songs and corny jokes. So please, for your holiday shopping, consider picking up a CD, download, or sticker from me or your other favorite local band or musician. It's a cool gift and you'll be supporting better art! Thanks again and have a safe, fun Christmas and New Year!
My good friend Cody Pruitt stopped by my humble little home studio the other day and laid down some tunes. Check out his session on Soundcloud:
This year I'm spending Thanksgiving in my hometown of Lubbock, TX. No matter where I end up living, Lubbock will always be home to me and the place where I started and became inspired as a musician. Some of the many things I'm thankful for this year include: family, friends, Clint Buck, Johnny Krueger, vinyl records, horror movies, boutique guitar effects pedals, and Maine Coon cats.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family or friends, have too much turkey and green bean casserole, and have a peaceful and safe journey wherever the holiday takes you.
Great link from NPR to a really neat TED talk on the mind of musicians. This will be something I'll circle around to later, but until then, enjoy your weekend (fill it with music listening!).
Great link from NPR to a really neat TED talk on the mind of musicians. This will be something I'll circle around to later, but until then, enjoy your weekend (fill it with music listening!).
If you haven't been here in a while, WELCOME BACK! If this is your first time, NICE TO MEET YOU! You've come to HollisMusic.com, the official website for the music of me, Hollis Webb.
Hopefully you brought your construction hat and safety goggles because as you can see, things are still being put together around here. If you'd like to get down to business and get ahold of some music, click here for my bandcamp page.
Otherwise, feel free to poke around look at things, listen to some music, or leave a comment below. It's nice to have you here. Thanks for supporting weird music.