Questlove tries to salvage something of musical value from a (the) Philip Michael Thomas album

I just started following Questlove (drummer of The Roots) on Twitter less than an hour ago, and it’s already paid off with this little gem, which I believe is how he’s spending his summer vacation (i.e. week off from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon). Nice. It’s cool to see him in action at home (a.k.a. the studio).

Since the video is so tantalizingly incomplete, he has also shared the finished product.

RPM Challenge: Day 1

So far, so good. Well, maybe not so good. But… so far, anyway.

I made up my mind a few weeks ago that I was going to start at it right away at midnight on February 1, so that’s what I did. I plugged away at a brand new idea for about two hours, but at the end felt very disappointed with my progress. I blame two things:

1. My piece of $#!+ electric guitar (MIM Fender Strat). Pickups buzz (minor problem) and the damn thing won’t stay in tune long enough for me to even finish tuning!!! (Yeah yeah… new pickups, shielding, locking tuners… no I haven’t done any of those things and no it’s not going to happen this month!)

2. Steve Martin. Yes, Steve Martin. I spent the 90 minutes leading up to midnight watching one of my childhood heroes systematically dismantle every remaining scrap of respect I had for his work while hosting one of the most miserably bad episodes of SNL I have ever seen, culminating in an appalling performance of a song from his new banjo CD. Yes, his banjo playing is competent, not great, but the song was crap! It wasn’t well-written, his singing is, well, not even singing, and it told a lame story that wasn’t even remotely funny. Boo! Why, Steve, why?

So, I slept on it. I think a good night’s sleep helped. I listened back to the bare bones of the song I started last night (because I had deleted a few instrument tracks from it in frustration), and it’s actually kind of cool, so I think I’m going to use it.

I started two other new songs today that seem to be going well. One of them is almost done, the other is maybe 50%.

My electric guitar is also being more cooperative today as well, and my bass sounds great! Unfortunately my bass plucking fingers are no longer up to the task — I’ve slacked off on bass practice too much and I’ve lost my calluses. 30 minutes of bass playing and I have a big nasty blister on the tip of my index finger! :o

Oh well… although I used to be very anti-pick on the bass, I’ve since mellowed and now probably use a pick 60-70% of the time when I play bass. And on this album, it looks like that’s going to be somewhere in the ballpark of… 100%!

Time to call it a day, with the kids returning and my parents coming to watch the Super Bowl on the big TV. But I may resume again tonight after kids go to bed.

One disappointment with myself overall so far: I haven’t branched out with instruments or recording techniques. But I think that will come.

Some helpful advice for the RIAA

You may have heard about the ludicrous legal victory recently handed to the Recording Industry Association of America in their ongoing witch hunt pursuit of justice against illegal file sharing.

The industry claims that file sharing is killing its business. Maybe so. But I think there’s another factor at work. To illustrate my point, I’ve created a helpful chart showing the increased crap level of the output of the recording industry from the years 1991 to 2007. It is also available as a PDF.

Crap Music by Year