Right now, I'm working on a European tour for July - this will include engagments playing with several bands, as well as some teaching. At this point, I'm looking at going all the way across the continent from The Netherlands to Lithuania and many stops between.
This is all still coming together and I have some avails left in there and am working to connect the dots -- please contact me asap if you'd like me to come to you to play, teach, or both! email@example.com
In 2012, the avant-garde collective Anti-Social Music released it’s Sleeps Around record, which includes the heavy-drone work I played on called Music for ASM composed by the experimental hip-hop group Dälek
This record is released on vinyl and is contained in an amazing record sleeve that is a work of art on it’s own. (it turns into a cube!) The artist who designed it called “Scrapworm” was just awarded an official patent for it’s design!! Awesome! (www.scrapworm.info)
The initial "hit" song off of the upcoming Dillinger Escape Plan album, called "When I Lost My Bet" (DEP is a popular math rock / metal / grindcore band) got over 100K views in just over 2 days. The song features a literal choir of tuba tracks I recorded as the "sub bass" power chord sound as well as many effected tuba sounds and other brass parts mixed in throughout.
Those brave enough to hear/watch the track (it's intense and the video is GORY) will hear a bass swell at 2:22, a moment people are commenting about -- that's the tuba! Rumor has it that the band is also using TubaJoe samples in their sold-out live shows!
This amazing painting (featuring the main boss from the video game DOOM (holding my exact tuba) was done by the incredible Dima Drjuchin to commemorate NEW BEARD's leading track off of the upcoming epic LP release New Beard City which drops this summer. Yes, you guessed it, the song is about playing the game.
I just finished up playing simultaneously on 3 different records, and I sit down to plan another tomorrow morning, so recording is on my mind! It’s something I do pretty regularly and I have really grown to enjoy it.
Time is always crucial in a recording situation. Following are some things I suggest to make a session (with me!) go smoothly:
1.) Be prepared. Make sure that the engineer has everything setup, at least approximately, BEFORE the musicians arrive. Naturally, there will be some adjustment after they arrive, but have things approximated and *line tested* beforehand. ...this includes a headphone setup. Have a plan in mind beforehand on how you’d like to do things as far as setup, isolation, and tracking order.
2.) Be prepared. Make charts! I know you know your tune, but others trying to learn your tune by rote can be time-consuming and leaves room for mistakes while tracking. Sometimes, only a head chart, or even a basic chord chart with the form of the song is needed...nothing fancy. It's just a matter of having something to visually refer to when needed. This can be the difference of two takes or ten, or getting one tune done in a 3 hour block, or rocking out 4 tunes. Don't worry, having a chart does *not* take any of the vibe or feeling out of it. In this situation, it's merely a tool to help make things go smoothly!
3.) Consult your tuba player on mic selection. MOST engineers (even high-end, very accomplished ones) have little idea on how to make a tuba sound good...or worse, how a tuba should and can actually sound. In the past, I have had wonderful performances completely destroyed by bad recording practices. Nothing is more frustrating and tragic! I now will usually send the setup I prefer ahead of time to help in this process... I also do my best to utilize standard equipment with which most engineers will be comfortable. The mic setup will also affect how I approach the tone. Tuba tone is actually quite delicate and must be dealt with in a fairly specific way. Fortunately, these days with software recording, there are many options available and there is never a reason for a tuba to sound bad, gross, thin or rough!
Above all, realize the ultimate goal is to allow your musicians to communicate your music through their own horns and voices. Encourage and allow them to communicate. It's easy to get caught up in the process and get bogged down. Put your music in the listener's ears and try to remember why and how they might enjoy your music.
It's really fun to record with the tuba as it has this tendency to really open people's minds. It has this incredibly versatile, yet somewhat unknown sound. It's not abnormal for me to go into a session to play on one song, then after the artist hears the tuba, they end up wanting it on many songs.
One last piece of advice I can give to artists using a tuba on their recordings is to take mixing and mastering seriously (especially the EQ side of it). Mastering is often overlooked in many DIY projects. (it's more than just sending the sound through a compressor plugin) Adequate approach to these steps are crucial in dealing with the unique frequency characteristics of the tuba. I PROMISE it's worth the effort.
The tuba has a beautiful sound, use it wisely, and use it often!! The tuba CAN rock, the tuba CAN swing, the tuba CAN elevate any ensemble to a new level. Do it!
The New Beard record was an outrageous process. We started right away, probably a month or two after the first show. We tracked the tuba and the drums directly to tape, right in the heart of indie country, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, USA, 11211.
It was an intense process, it took us a good chunk of a week. Fortunately the studio was very close to a beer hall (just because it's Williamsburg does not mean one has to drink lame PBR!!). We worked like crazy, and it sounded good! We went about it in the traditional *rock* way... doing the drum tracks first, then tracking the bass (in this case, tuba). The drums got the large studio and we tracked the tuba in the un-airconditioned upstairs of the small complex. It was a sweaty process, but that's ok, this is rock after all. We recorded the tuba with a bi-mic setup, which I frequently use in the studio.
Once that was done, they wanted to let the tracks sit for a bit..., but the madness had started! The record grew and grew and Grew and GREW!! This rock band now had an entire orchestra behind it with the arrangements becoming so lush! Tracks were added (all LIVE instruments!) in Brooklyn, Long Island, Yonkers, North Carolina, and later, Sweden! Dunn and Wigler had far outdone themselves! We had also added another member, the backhanded shredder Yazan Shouldertap to fill things out even more.
The sound of the band had grown immensely. Every week more tracks and players were added!! (including some by Gato Loco's Stefan Zeniuk)
This record had turned into a massive project with a massive sound and a honourably massive scope. It became obvious to us all that we needed a set of "outside ears" to unify it.
The Swede Gustav Ejstes and his band Dungen were huge inspirations of New Beard’s basic sound. So, why not just go to the source for this fresh perspective?! Ejstes enthusiastically accepted the band's proposal to mix the record, and not only creatively mixed it, he completely threw himself into the project and even appears on many of the tracks on a host of different instruments. Gustav gave it all a unified sound; a sound which was already organically inferred from the get-go. This full-circle really made it wonderful and only enhanced the heart that Wigler and Dunn, as well as Tony and myself and everyone else had put into it.
Now that the arrangements had metamorphosed to such a size, naturally, the application of the tuba parts had changed a bit. I retracked and retweaked many of the tuba parts right as the record went to mixing, this time with a slightly better bi-mic setup. We tracked it again in Brooklyn, but this time in Carroll Gardens. It was another sweaty process. The results were far better this time around, simply as my role in the band was more defined, my sound better understood, and the songs better ingested.
To add to this great synergy and new energy was the final musical step, the mastering by the legendary Greg Calbi (google it)
On top of the great songs and great vibe of the band, I’m THRILLED about how the tuba sounds! As of recent, on other records with other bands, I’ve had some tragic results with how the tuba tone was mistreated by bumbling engineers post-tracking...once it is officially out of my hands. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to have the tuba sound so warm and clear, present but with no edge, even when within a large landscape of hoards of different instruments all rocking simultaneously.
It’ll be a little while before this record goes public. I simply cannot wait to play it for you.
(Andrew Dunn, Greg Calbi, and Ben Wigler at the New Beard mastering session)