A new Angry Love Song! So Much To Justify. The Mood Ring returns. Rainbow Randolph. Creativity comes in all sizes. Not repeating yourself. Snatch. You’ll have to speak louder than that. Ear plugs. New ‘Rawk’. Reference mixes for the deaf. Velvet Revolver. Slither. Outrageous French accents. Terry Jones and the Mouse Organ (RIP). Hearing loss: it can even strike classical players! Blame those really loud brass players. And Wagner.
RCWow. More new music.
JCHYep. Whaddaya think?
RCWell, if I use the all knowing Mood Ring, it’s a classic ‘Angry Love Song’.
JCHTouché Actually, I was thinking just that when I was working on it. And then it hit me? I DON’T CARE ANYMORE! Which is a big step for me. (laughs)
RCBig step? How so?
JCHWell, in the past, believe it or not I’ve always tried really, really, really, really, really, really…
JCHReally. Really, really, really, really. HARD. To not repeat myself. Of course it happens because I like what I like, but, for example, when I would start a large piece, I would always make sure that it did not conform to the same basic pattern of something else I’d done.
JCHFor instance, the opening to Progress is fast and the opening to The Solid State Siren is slow. Some pieces focus on horns, some on strings. Some are guitar driven. Some have a gazillion time sigs, some are mostly four on the floor.
RCMan, you’re starting to sound like Rainbow Randolph.
JCHHey. Don’t forget who put the Coq Au Vin in yer mouth.
RCI don’t remember you ever putting anything in my mouth, sir. Nor would I ever.
JCH(laughs) But last time I do remember saying that I used randomness to make sure that each piece had something new to offer. But I also use avoidance as well.
RCNot like procrastination avoidance.
JCHWell… that too! (laughs) But I would start out saying, “I gotta try this because I did that before.” And then I make working within that boundary a part of the creative process.
RCSo what’s ‘Big’?
JCHOh… right. ‘Big’ is that I stopped worrying about that. It came to me all of a sudden. Like a flash. And you know what I saw?
RCI’m on the edge of my seat.
JCHI AM OLD!
JCHAnd? I’m OLD! ANCIENT! PAST MY SELL DATE. ME! Mr. OK Boomer! For fuck’s sake, I’m Mr. City Councilman! A resident asked me to join the fucking ROTARY last week!
RCWow. You’re screwed.
JCHAnd you wanna know the really wild part? I’m giving it serious consideration!
RCYeah, you should just give it up, son. (laughs)
JCHI’m thinkin’ about it.
RCWhat? Music? Why?
JCHWell, one very practical reason: It finally caught up with me. Hearing loss.
RCDamn. Seriously? Like Beethoven with a Stratocaster? (laughs)
JCHNo, not like that. Actually, it’s fine for most things. But my left ear has definitely gone south.
RCSo is it like “You’ll have to talk a lot louder?”
JCH(laughs) Yeah. But not quite as bad as ‘Snatch’ (laughs).
RCWell that’s reassuring. I wonder about that myself. Now is this because of all those years playing that devil ‘Rawk’?
JCHI assume so. Especially because it is mostly in my left ear. The ironic thing is that I was part of that first generation wearing headsets. So you had the one-ear headphone with the mic like an office receptionist, right?
RCI remember those.
JCHSo my guess is that, because we were using them along with all the crazy stage monitoring, that I was double-blasting that one ear.
RCYou mean turning that ear up extra-loud to compete with the stage monitors?
JCHRight. It was crazy. Just the opposite of what should have been happening. But hey, it was the 80’s, Baby. So that’s what we did.
RCDarn. Wait a minute. So how can you mix the album if you no longer have, ‘stereo’ hearing?
JCHThat’s a great point. Right now I’m doing a ton of reference listening.
RCWhich, for readers, means?
JCHI’m constantly listening to recordings I admire as I go to compare what I’m recording with the greats. The theory is that you can compensate for mild to moderate hearing loss if you make your record sound, to you, like a reference mix you trust.
RCEven if your hearing is impacted, so long as what you hear sounds like the great record, you’re OK?
JCHAgain, that’s tha theory. We’ll see! But I think maybe that I’ll end up taking it to Ed or another pro for final mixing–just to make sure.
RCMakes sense. So what are your references?
JCHI got a ton of ’em. But for this song? I liked Slither.
RCI love that mix.
JCHMe too. It’s like the end of an era. A hi-fi ‘Black Dog’.
RCRight. Right! There’s so much more bottom now on all records. You don’t really notice it until you set them side by side.
JCHExactly. And that’s the thing I always have to keep in mind. I mean, my mind is back in the 70’s, so even if both my ears were working properly, I’d still mix for records of that era. I don’t hear with the sound of, you know, Pearl Jam or Rage or any more modern bands.
RCThe funny thing is that even those bands are twenty years old.
JCHEXACTLY! I don’t even know what a 2020 ‘rock’ mix sounds like. My idea of ‘modern’ will never be really up to date. That’s why I said “I don’t care anymore”. I gave up worrying about it.
Very cool. And just to be clear, you’re still enjoying the work, right?
JCHOh absolutely. In some ways more than ever. And I’ll tell ya that the hard pill to swallow is that I’ve finally started to figure out this whole ‘recording’ thing. (laughs)
RCLife. As you often say, Is she not one cruel bitch?
JCHYes, but I say it in this outraaaaaaaaaaaageous French accent. So it’s humorous. (laughs)
RCSure it is. I’m glad you stumbled on a Monty Python reference. We should take a moment of silence for Terry Jones.
JCHYou bet. Neither one of us would be ‘us’ without Monty Python.
RCTrue Dat. Here’s a clip most people probably won’t remember.
JCHOh many that is truly awful. I love it. Anyhoo, the thing I wanted to emphasize for everyone is how super common place this is. I mean the majority of people over fifty-ish are now having some kind of hearing loss and we aren’t dealing with it.
RCIn what way?
JCHWell, from what I gather, almost no insurance companies pay for hearing aids, even though almost as many elderly people need them now as they do glasses.
RCI had no idea. How expensive are those things?
JCHCrazy expensive. Like twenty five hundred bucks.
RCDamn. I can only assume that insurance companies don’t want to pay for it.
JCHYa think? And I’ll tell ya something else. Coincidentally, a couple of my former orchestra co-workers sent me the same article on how so many orchestral guys now need hearing protection.
RCWild. I had no idea.
JCHI mean, bass players… I mean in the orchestra always used to joke about being next to the brass guys, but it was no joke. It’s seriously annoying being right next to a dozen brass players going triple forte in a small theater. Drove me nuts.
RCThat sounds almost like a joke. I think most of us think of classical music as being quiet.
JCHYou mean like frilly, delicate Mozart? Wrong. All that Wagner shite is crazy loud. Why do you think opera singers are always SCREAMING! (laughs)
RCSecrets of a music professional. Revealed!
JCHYou heard it hear first.
RCOr maybe you didn’t?
JCHWhat? What’s that ya say, sonny?