You keep very active in your musical life. Do you prefer sound editing/engineering or writing or performing?
My favorite thing is the creative process. Next in line is the result of that process. The creative process, for me, can be either writing songs or engineering/"producing" someone else's songs. After that is performing.
What projects are you currently working on? (both at work and in your bands)
Whew, my plate is a little full. My band Lost Gloves is in the middle of recording an EP. We are also working on our next music video with Jesse Giallombardo writing, directing and editing. My other band PEELS is writing new stuff and will probably record an EP or an LP by the end of the year that I'll engineer and mix. I also have two The Paver recordings to mix in the next few months, a 20min short film to sound design and mix, and the occasional commercial at my day job. And that's just what I know I'm doing before July.
You've been in many different bands, and probably just as many different practice spaces. Do you have any favorite details from past or current spaces? Any must-haves for your music space?
I'm going to count because I've never thought about this before... To date, I've rented 11 monthly practice spaces in Chicago or New York. I've also regularly practiced in 7 "non-monthly rental" spaces- a garage, an attic, two basements and 3 hourly places. Must haves- 24/7 access, tall ceilings, security. Nice bonuses- easy access for loading/unloading. Gravy- clean bathrooms and beer in the vending machine. Deal breaker- a leaky roof.
Do you have a favorite piece of equipment or instrument?
This is tough. Gear comes and goes and falls in and out of favor with me. I guess the three pieces that have stuck with me the longest are a '96 MIM Fender Strat (modded with '04-ish Tele pickups), a '97 Seagull Acoustic Steel String Guitar (for the desert island), and a '01 Musicman Sterling Bass.
How important is it to you to protect your hearing? Do you regularly wear earplugs? Do you have a brand you recommend?
When I was young and stupid? It wasn't important. Now that I have a -10db notch in my left ear at 4k? VERY important. I use -38dB foam earplugs from the local drug store (pink or blue, not the tan ones.) Works well enough for loud band practice. I might someday buy the $150 form fitted and personalized ones from the hearing institute, but I'm afraid I'll lose them.
Do you have any tips for musicians trying to make it in New York City?
Nope. Maybe I will once I make it.
What are your thoughts on the album as a lost art form? (question asked by To Destroy A City)
(Is it a lost art form? Seems like every little band Brooklyn has an album out...)
This answer for everyone that hasn't made it- one of the biggest challenges right now for recorded music is the signal to noise ratio of all the music being produced and released. Because ANYONE can record ANYTHING, it is my opinion that its more important than ever that what gets recorded is the best and nothing less. I submit that the album is a lost art form NOT because of reduced attention spans, but because musicians are not editing themselves. I also submit that releasing a great EP is better than releasing a mediocre LP, releasing a great single is better than releasing a mediocre EP, and that releasing nothing is better than releasing a mediocre single.
If you've made it, then presumably you've earned the latitude to explore the long play format. Approach it with the respect that it deserves and it wont be lost on someone.
What should I ask the next person to be on By Measure?
We live in a golden age of music, where most of the traditional barriers to releasing or performing music have been lowered or removed. The downside, of course, is that standing out means rising above millions instead of thousands. Does standing out matter to you? If it does, how do you plan to do it?
Brian's favorite songs
1. for getting through a tough day at work: Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name
2. that you were part of the recording: Artless- Flying Colours
3. from before 1970: The Beatles- Don't Let Me Down
4. classical piece: Bach - "Little" Fugue (G minor, BWV 578)
5. to listen to at high volume: The Clash- Rudie Can't Fail
6. from an artist from your hometown: Killer Whale Party- Genie Style
7. from a lesser-known artist: Landlady- Double Check
8. by an all-female band: Sleater-Kinney - The Fox