Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Wrote a Short Story...

I wrote a short story in my personal style of multi-lined poetry-esque writing. As all this really happened to me, ( some of it while I was writing ) its hard to know, if it will make sense to someone who didn't experience it. But I guess that's what friends and the internets are for... to let you know how much things do or don't make sense. Without further ado...

so I dreamt this before
( a couple weeks ago )
and today 
it happened
in the dream
things made sense
I mean
they didn't make sense
at the time
( it being a dream and all )
at least 
the feeling was right 
and everything happened
in the right 

so here's how it went in the 
I was in the basement
reading lyrics
on my computer
from this band 
Field Report
when I felt this strong sense 
of someone behind me
so I turn around
and this girl is there
this girl I hung out with a couple times
we used to share a love 
of the game tetris
one time we even played it 
until 5am
she's someone I haven't thought about
in ages
but there she is
and she's concerned
like she wants to know if I'm alright
and I'm glad she's there
I feel glad she's there
and everything
it all feels ok
because she's there
and then 
I wake up

but here's how it went today 
there's this girl
this girl I hung out with a couple times
one time 
I even tried to kiss her
after we played tetris until 5am
she's someone who I haven't thought of
in ages
she messages me today
and asks if everything is ok
and it was
it all felt ok
and I don't think anything of this
her messaging me that is
but then 
this evening
I was in the basement
reading lyrics
on my computer
from this band
Field Report
when I felt a strong sense
of someone behind me
so I turn around
and no one is there
the girl 
is definitely not there
she lives in Colorado now
but then I remember
the dream
or deja vu
or other reality
everything comes
flooding back
and I remember 
that she messaged me 
earlier today
asking if everything felt ok
and now 
even later in the evening
I still don't feel anything bad
so I write her 
a long-ish note
explaining all this
because it all seems so 
like the dream was happening
but at the same time
kind of not
its around 1am
when I message her
but I don't hear back 
I assume 
she's asleep
time passes
an hour or so goes by
I find myself 
randomly looking through my old music ideas 
on my computer
when I come across a file
the first song 
or idea of a song
my ex-girlfriend and I wrote together
I listen to it
and all the guitar
and keyboards
and drum beats
and sounds
pull together
reverse weaving memories 
that draw an intenseness out of me
I remember the night we wrote it
I remember what I felt
all the hope
and the internal smiles
and unchecked
anticipatory passions
and us sitting and talking
and I check 
the creation date 
on the file
and its from the night we kissed 
for the first time
all these memories 
and hopes 
of perfect futures
painted like fairy tales
I just wasn't good enough to draw 
the correct endings to
all come flooding back
right when I was doing so good 
these last couple weeks
with hardly any thoughts
of destroying myself
and I feel 
I'm just going to bottom out hard again
when I remember 
the dream
where the girl was standing behind me
making sure I was ok
but I hate it
and I damn everything
because she's 
she's not actually here
I hate it because
there's no one actually here
I'm so confused
it all seems out of order
it seems like I should've gotten sad first
and then I should've been reading the lyrics
and then she should've been there 
behind me
( at least with a message 
since she's in Colorado and all )
making sure I was ok
making it ok
just like in the dream
instead of the reality
where she asked if I was ok
earlier today
before I wasn't ok
I bottomed out
like I am
bottoming out 
right now
so I decide I'm going to write this about it
right now
what you're reading
in order to stem my heart dives
in my protocol sheet 
I made about my depression
writing is something that can 
break the heavy dark waves as they come
before they're unmanageable
but while I'm writing 
what you're reading
right now
the girl
the girl in Colorado
the girl I thought was asleep
is messaging me:

"wow that is weird 
I probably shouldn't be reading 
or responding bc 
I'm driving"

and now I'm beginning to realize
this moment
this could be the moment
when she is looking over my shoulder
making sure I'm ok
10 more minutes have passed now
the black blanket in my mind has lifted a bit
and she's messaging again:

"ok now I'm not driving. 
that's an interesting dream/déjà vu thing 
and yes makes sense 
but not lol"

my mood lifts
I'm feeling ok
and I feel the rest of the night
I'm going to be ok
and I won't have to battle demons
alone tonight
so I start filling her in 
on WHY
I need her protection 
of all nights
why she was missed so gravely 
after I listened to the song earlier
when I looked behind me
and she wasn't there
she's typing:

"glad I was there to check you were ok"

and then: 

"oh geez. 
I was messaging u 
sitting in my car 
in my parking lot 
got cold and came inside. 
put my phone in my pocket quickly
for 15 seconds 
while I was walking into my house 
and just now
when I pulled it out 
tetris had opened 
I haven't touched 
my tetris game on my phone 
in 6 months"

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My 5000 Character Response to an OK Cupid Lady Who Asked Me the Simple Question "Do You Meditate?" ***UNEDITED****


I've written quite the response to what was probably a very simple 'yes or no' type question so in the interest of common human decency, I'll turn this into kind of a really crappy 'Choose Your Own Adventure' where you can either pick the Cliff Notes version or the Non-Cliff Notes version. If picking the Cliff notes version, simply read the response then skip down to the second row of colons :) If reading the unabridged response, enter at your own risk ;)

"Do you meditate?"

To me practice is where all the present stuff becomes difficult. The concepts are a little hard to grasp at first - it takes experience and playing around with what present mind is, like how present is present mind? LOL Then once I've thought about it a great deal actually working with it is another completely different challenge. I do sitting meditation for about 35 minutes daily now. I had been on a trip out west recently (end of July) and kind of fell off the routine, but I've gotten things back now, but the mindfulness part is still difficult. Also I'm working on another kind of standing meditation for about 20-35 minutes everyday too.

Its easier to work on immediate mindfulness to me with the standing, because I'm more focused on different body systems: how my structure is aligned, what muscles are tensed, which ones are relaxed, relaxing more, relaxing more without losing the structure, paying attention to breathing, dropping my intention all the way through the floor (this one probably need more explanation, we'll save that for later ;) ) then there's the burning out of the muscles at certain points which is takes a lot of focus or maybe I should say NOT-focus - like you have to separate yourself from it. Since I've been working on this stuff, its super clear that your body is not you. Your mind isn't really you either. There's something else that is deeper that is the heart of your being. You can disconnect your body from that 'heart' and the same with the mind - or at least the thinking part of the mind. There's an awareness part of the mind that rides above the thinking, not sure about disconnecting that (actually I haven't even thought about disconnecting that until I just wrote it right now). Anyway... this is probably waaaaay too detailed of an answer for your "Do you meditate?" question. Its nice to write stuff down though as it kind of clarifies thoughts and makes them easier to communicate.

I do the sitting, standing and then I work on other Tai Chi exercises (I've been doing Tai Chi for about 4.5 years now and started teaching about a year ago). I've never been very hippie-ey or mystical or any of that so its interesting, because the more I mess with stuff the more weird stuff kind of crops up that falls into to those categories - to the point where I'm shedding a lot of my skeptic qualities. Being a skeptic isn't very fun anyway. I like and definitely adhere to the idea(s) that there is just some shit you can't explain scientifically right now, maybe in the future there will be more details uncovered but then there will be other unexplainable things. To me, being a skeptic takes all the wonder out of life. I'd rather have wonder and be a little more esoteric in my beliefs than be more scientific and have no wonder. It just seems like a funner time. And really making stuff funner is kind of the point ;)
END NON-CLIFF NOTES VERSION ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

My name is Shane. For the last 18 years I've record bands in my own recording studio as my primary source of income. I do martial arts (Tai Chi and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu). I write music. I write poetry. I drink copious, borderline obscene, amounts of tea which I prepare more Chinese-ey than say British-ey. I find it easier to have female friends than male ones, perhaps because I was raised primarily by my mother and grandmother. My recording studio is in the basement of the house I grew up in which is now in my name where I have lived for 34 years. I played in a band that toured across the country playing very many bad shows (LOL). I love all the things I do. Sometimes I wish I made a bit more money doing them, but I see that happening in time.

I started trying the internet dating thing, because I don't find myself in social situations all that often, plus I thought it would just be a new, different experience, which it is. I haven't found many promising connections through here - the physical meeting still trumps all in my opinion - all the numbers can line up and the photos can look great, but there is nothing on the internets that can quantify or qualify that physical spark or connection.

Esta es un digital tarjeta mas grande o un libro pequeño. Yo no sé ;)


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why Your Language Sucks! OR I Had a Dream

I woke up today remembering this strange dream that I had with my friend Dez in it. I was msg'ing her the details of the dream when I started thinking: explaining personal dreams is strange. There's so many details that can't begin to be accounted for including your emotions in the dream and their history and your actions in the dream and their history. You can describe the dream at face value, but it doesn't really begin to scratch the surface.

This made me begin to think of reality and how people's realities are as different as the dreams they have. I have my reality where on Monday I spent almost the whole day in bed. You may have your reality where you have to go a job everyday. My friend is in Iowa right now playing video games at his Grandma's house because he just got out of a mental hospital in Taiwan - so there's that reality too. Then I started thinking that all language, no matter which one, is a really shitty way to convey even realities that are 'acceptable'; ones that are more or less based around the framework of society. Then I started wondering if that was the point of not only society and language but money, etc. Its kind of like this giant funnel that passes a bunch of people through so their realities more or less line up and they are able to communicate with each other to the degree that it 'makes sense'.

Then I started wondering "But what about the other realities? What about the people off grid? People just living in a mountain somewhere. People who just got back from mental hospitals in Taiwan." I wondered if there's a way to communicate with them that isn't language based; something where the sharing of the mind is a more whole  and complete experience.

Then I stopped and wrote all this down in language, which takes a really long time to convert the raw thoughts into words, then type them out, finally proof reading it. I wrote this all down in language that will miss a large part of the feeling I was having when I wanted to share it. So....

Happy Wednesday!

The New Loud

The dream I had with Dez.
I was trying to sneak these photobooks through courthouse security. I also stole some evidence tags. I had to pay to take the photobooks through. The photobooks were $8. I was really nervous about the evidence tags, but when the guard saw them he didn't really pay too much attention. When I reached in my pocket for money, I had my driver's license and Dez' driver's license. I thought about meeting her for lunch in the courthouse cafeteria. My next thought was "I should show Dez how to do a battle cry." And then I imagined her throwing back her head in the courthouse cafeteria and shouting "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!" into the heavens. 

Then I thought to myself "well... maybe not at lunch." That was the last thing that happened before I woke up.

Monday, May 20, 2013

6 Reasons To Release Fewer Songs More Often

How many songs should I record?

This isn't a question I get asked very much, but I wish it was :) There are a lot of bands coming into the studio recently recording 10, 12 even 15 songs. That is good news for me and the studio, but not so much good news for the bands. As soon as I find out a new band wants to record more than 4-5 songs especially a new band, I immediately try to talk them out of it. I'm probably the worst recording studio salesman in the world - hahaha - but it really doesn't help to record a large amount of songs these days and here's some reasons why:

1. You need to develop your sound
New bands and bands which have gone through major member changes especially need to develop their sound. There is no better way to develop your sound than recording 3-4 songs and then really analyzing them. Usually a band's first songs are all over the place without any strong cohesiveness or style. This is good because you (or even better, your audience) may gravitate to one or two songs more than the rest. This gives you the opportunity to explore what makes those songs more appealing and try to introduce more elements from them into your other songs.

2. You need to develop your songs
Many times if there is a cohesive style, the songs themselves may be rather flat and under developed, either from the point of view of you, as a band/artist, or from the perspective of the audience. At last count there are exactly 1 gazzilion active bands/artists on the planet right now. To stand out, you need to make your songs as good as they can be. Maybe there are 'holes' in the song - parts which don't hold the attention of the listener - parts which perhaps need re-writing or additions. Issues like these are much easier to address when dealing with a smaller batches of songs. Trying to fill out and refine even 6+ songs is a major undertaking both from the creative side and especially from the budget/money side if the problems don't crop up until after the recording process begins.

3. Most people don't listen to LPs front to back anymore
The way people consume music has changed radically in the past 10-15 years. Spotify, Pandora and YouTube have changed the way people are listening to music. They are hearing mixes of various artists and not just jamming a whole record as much anymore. This is especially true if the artist is new or more unknown. You'll have a decent shot at getting people to hear 1 song. If the song is good and keeps the listeners attention, they might listen to 2 songs. If after those first 2 amazing songs, you become their new favorite band, they might listen to 3-4 songs, but almost nobody will listen to 6+ songs in one sitting from a new or local band.

4. Stay more in touch with your audience by recording fewer songs more often
Writing, practicing, recording and releasing songs takes time, especially if you are refining them to be as great as they can be. This process for 8+ songs could easily take over a year. In that case you have only one major thing to talk about on the Facebooks/Twitters/Internets for 12-18 months. If you record 3-4 songs every 3-6 months you will have 3-5 'big' things to talk about in the same amount of time. More things to talk about = more opportunities to stay fresh in the minds of your listeners/likers/followers/fans.

5. More releases means more feedback

You always want to be flexible. Its harder to tweak your style into something that could ultimately  prove to be much more successful if you're entrenched in a 12-18 month writing/release process. I believe the most important thing that the immediacy of the internet has done is given a voice to listeners/likers/followers/fans, whether that means something like public outcry changing the ending of a major video game release like Mass Effect 3 or gently guiding a local band into a more appealing direction, this public feedback mechanism is unique to this time and should definitely be taken advantage of. I'm not saying you have to 'beta-test' your songs by posting works in progress for critique (though that is pretty cool), but by having a shorter release schedule you'll have more opportunities to get feedback to tweak to (or ignore ;) )

6. The dark side
There are a lot of pressures and emotions that go into being in a band. Maybe the band chemistry changes and a member becomes problematic, maybe someone has to move away, maybe you don't like the way someone smells anymore, maybe life just happens and someone has to leave or worse yet the whole project disbands. Even if you are on the same page with goals from the beginning, doesn't mean it will stay like that. This creates a much, much larger problem if you're working on a 6+ song release on a 12+ month schedule. There is a lot more wasted time and money chucking out an LP that has a lead vocalist that just quit compared to just adapting a new member to the next set of 3 or 4 songs. Just remember bands are like having a relationship with 2+ more people and has the same kind of volatility that goes along with any other close relationship.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Meditation Biking OR 4 Steps to a More Relaxed Ride

I rode my bike down to the lake today. The trip is a decent ride about 9 miles each way. My bike doesn't have gears. Its a 60's Schwinn Cruiser with coaster brakes. I don't listen to music when I ride and without gears my mind starts to drift to the subtleties of biking. I start to think about all the different sensations that are happening in my body. I start trying to dissect the automatic and investigate things a bit more, in hopes of making the ride more enjoyable. Here's a few things I noticed today :)


Since I'm on a cruiser, I'm sitting nearly straight up. When my posture is right I can release nearly all the tension in my back and just stay suspended in the seat, pretty much by the curvature of my spine. This makes for more effortless riding. If I end up more hunched over, I lean into the handle bars, the more I lean into the handle bars, the more my forearms, shoulders, and back muscles engage creating tension. The same thing happens with gripping the handlebars. I'm always trying to use the lightest, most relaxed grip on the handlebars as possible. To me, gripping the bars tighter doesn't create more control, it just creates tension. I let the bars stay loose in my grip and if I go over a rough patch of road, only then do I engage a firmer grip.

When riding I try and keep my breaths as even as possible. Chest breathing promotes tension and anxiety - two things I never want while I'm riding my bike, especially through traffic. I'm always trying to use stomach/abdomen breathing as it promotes deeper breaths. Not only are the deeper breaths especially helpful going up hills but deeper breathing is also more relaxing, making for a more enjoyable ride.

I notice that, of course, there's the down motion in pedaling and up motion in pedaling, but there's also the 2 ends nobody thinks about as much: the transition of the down into the up and the transition of the up into the down. Today riding along the lake paths, I tried to be mindful of keeping these transitions as smooth as possible - trying to avoid any 'stops' or 'jerkiness' between the down and up motions.

I push down on the pedals and the bike goes, sure, every one knows that :) but paying attention to my legs as the pedal goes up seems just as important as the force used to press down. As I'm nearing the end of the down motion, I try to make sure I guide my leg through the transition described above and then I try and release as much muscle tension in my leg as possible - simply letting the pedal guide my foot back to the top. By keeping my legs alternating this 'empty' state, I seem to have more stamina and push especially on hills.

Paying close attention to the subtle interaction between my bike and I as well as the inner workings of my body during a ride helps create a more meditative experience. My mind can then unwind at the same time I'm exercising my body. I usually arrive at my destination feeling more relaxed than if my mind is simply focused on the route or my time.

It'd be cool to hear what inner workings you pay attention to on your rides or what you think about the above 4 ruminations. Leave a comment on the blog or hit up my Facebook page :)

-Shane Olivo
The New Loud

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Breaking Edge OR I'm 37 and Just Started Drinking Alcohol

I had my first alcohol this last November (2012) at 37 years old. I've been technically 'Straight Edge' my whole life - no alcohol, no cigarettes, no drugs - though I was never fond of the whole group of people that identified as  'Edge'.

Ian Mackaye Talks About Straight Edge (Skip to 9:30)

The 'Edge' kids were always way too preachy, and humorless most of the time. I never cared if people around me smoked or did drugs or drank. I just didn't want to do it. Why? Growing up I lived with my mom and Grandmother and Grandfather. My Grandfather would come home everyday from working at a printing press and proceed to get wasted drunk. He would then scream at my grandmother blaming her for everything bad that happened to him (in life) until he passed out on the living room recliner, only to get up the next day for work and repeat the process. My dad was never around, because he was always on drugs and running from cops. I saw what was happening from when I was little on. Everything left a big impression and given that all the males - even all my uncles on both sides of my family (6 in all) - were alcoholics or on coke at one point or another, I figured it was a good bet to just not start at all. So I didn't. I built up a business, a recording studio, which I'm sure was paid for in large part by the amount of money I saved not drinking alcohol through my teens and 20's.

So why start? Why 'break edge' now? 

I can sum it up in one word: ATTACHMENT. I realized I had come so far along using the story of my male alcoholic family members that it didn't make sense to me any longer. After all, they weren't me. Biological predispositions or not, I am my own person. I was holding on to not-drinking and letting it control me just like the addictions controlled my family. My fears and ideologies had become attachments. So essentially, I was being controlled by the very thing I was trying to avoid. I decided to drop them and truly drop the past along with it. I never think about the alcoholics in my family anymore, so they can now begin to fade from my life completely instead of being conjured or summoned at every social get-together when I get asked what I'd like to drink. Its been a very freeing experience.

So next time you and I are out, we'll have a drink together and it will be different, but not because there will be a glass of alcohol in front of me, but because of all the ghosts I've left behind me.

-Shane Olivo
The New Loud

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Most Important Thing You Can Do To Make Your Band Successful

The most important thing you can do to make your band successful is both obvious and deceptively simple: Keep your band together.

You and your fellow band members don't have a lot of control when it comes to who likes your music or which blogs will write about it or if it gets any kind of airplay. What you do have control over is yourselves: how you interact with each other, what your individual and collective goals are, and most importantly how you treat each other.

Its so obvious. I mean if the band isn't together of course it can't become successful :) I have a strong belief that if 4 people who hadn't ever played instruments came together with the same goals, focus, and good communication they would be eventually become a famous band (if that's what their goals were ;) )

Here are a few ways to get and keep your band together, focused and strong.

1. Everyone in your band should be on the same page.
The best way to do this is with clearly defined goals - especially ones you can break down into numbers. Don't let people get away with answers like 'I don't know' or 'I guess, I'll have to see how it goes'. The more specific you can be the better.
- How many shows do you want to play now - Twice a month; every weekend all weekend?
- Ideally how many shows do you want to play or CAN you play - is a 60 or 90 day tour too much?
- How much is everyone willing to contribute monetarily to the band - how much money can you contribute of your own/month $0? $1000?
- How much personal time is everyone willing to contribute - 10 hours/week; 20? 50?

In addition to clearly defined goals with numbers you should all talk about what the ultimate goal for the band is. Is it 'have fun'? If so, what does 'have fun' mean to everyone? Try not to have answers that are open ended - "Dude, I just want to have fun, but if something happens, you know, that's cool." Those answers tend to create a lot of problems down the road.

A lot of bands ask this question and answer it with "I would like the band to get to a point where it breaks even money-wise." Fine. If that's what you want, write songs in the basement and don't play shows. No recording budgets. No gas for shows. No merch costs. BAM! You just broke even - goal met! The problem is people want some form of success in addition to 'breaking even'. They want to record and play shows and have merch. If you really want to have all those things AND have your band  break even, its a good exercise to define some costs so you have a better understanding of how much you should be looking to make in return to break even. For instance call some recording studios and get realistic budgets for how much it is to record. Call merch vendors and find out how much it is to get shirts pressed. If you know your recording will be $1000 and shirts will be $500 and you know how much you plan on charging for shirts and recordings, then you know you have to sell 'x' amount of recordings and shirts to break even. Having that 'x' number is KEY. It gives you something to shoot toward while you're trying to 'spread the word' (market) yourselves.

2. Be not only cool with one another, but be a family.
Have respect for other members and try to find ways to talk with each other that are not incendiary or cause flare-ups. If someone has a problem with something try to use "I" statements to approach the other person(s). For instance try approaches like "Maybe its just me, but I feel like that part you're playing is not totally on. Can you show me what you're doing?" instead of "Dude, you're totally fucking up that part like ALWAYS! WTF!"

A lot of people just use the latter way and play the "Dude, I'm just being honest!" card, but there are ways of being honest without insulting someone or damaging their ego - and ego damage control is key to communicating with other musicians/artists.

Being a family also means being there for each other no matter how bad things get. In the Nirvana video below (at 2:00), Kurt is having problems with a bouncer. Watch how FAST Dave and Chris throw down their instruments to come to his aid. Amazing solidarity!

3. Sometimes its best to love the one you're with, not the one you want.
Everyone has their own idea of what they would like the band to sound like. With that sound comes individual styles of play. If you find that you have a member whose personality fits in well with the band, but his playing style is a little different than what you would like, its best to try and modify your vision to match the members you're playing with. For instance, The Smiths almost didn't use Mike Joyce, because they thought his drumming was too aggressive at first, but in the end I think the aggressiveness of his style adds something to their sound, they maybe wouldn't have got with a mellower drummer. Same with Andy Hurley from Falloutboy. Falloutboy would sound totally different if Hurley's drumming was a more poppy style instead of the hardcore background he came from. Also when people play to their strengths they feel good about what they're doing because they're doing something they are confident with.

Being in a band is like having 4 (or more) girlfriends or boyfriends and they're all different and all have different quirks and personalities. If you can find ways to focus yourselves, communicate better, and appreciate one another for who you are, your chances of survival AND success as a band will be much greater.

- Shane Olivo
The New Loud
Bobby Peru Recording