Does Practice Make Perfect?

At the very least, practice makes us realize how really really ridiculously far from perfect we are.

But tonight, Jagged Spiral had arguably the most productive and rewarding practice session we’ve had to date.

Last week, Josh tried to sneak an I-Book into the studio, (like we wouldn’t notice or something) anyway, he had this great idea to lock in the tempo of each song, and use the I Book as a really expensive metronome, and he would play to a click track.

I can’t tell you how awesome an idea this was.

It’s awesome because now I trust the drummer. Before, there were times when Josh and Colin weren’t ‘locked’ in time, and I wouldn’t know who to follow. Colin admitted the same thing happens to him; Josh and I get out of sync, so who is right? Well, we decided that the drummer is always right, even if he’s wrong. That solves some problems, but there are also times when Josh has an entire six pack of Red Bull before he comes over, and we manage to play a 45 minute set in 25 minutes, and Col and I can barely keep up.

These problems are a thing of the past. Will we be able to do this when we play live? SHOULD we do this when we play live? Dunno, but it has made practice much easier.

Tonight’s practice seemed like our first Real band practice. We brushed up on material for a couple hours and jammed our first cover song (Sisters Of Mercy’s “Temple of Love”).

Then, we worked out a set list (! !! !!!), and played it all the way through, with very little time between the songs. It lasted about 38 minutes. Several of the songs are simply rough structures with no lyrics, so there is still lots of work to be done. There are several songs that are unfinished, several songs from Days From Evil that we simply can’t play yet, and several cover songs that we would like to learn, but just having a list of songs that we can play nonstop for 38 minutes is pretty awesome. After the practice I was burned out, my voice was nearly shot, but I was SO jazzed. And my hands didn’t hurt at all.

The practice is starting to pay off. We are by no means “tight” and for a three piece, we need to be as tight as possible, but I think we are at a really good starting point. It wasn’t long ago that we couldn’t play a single song that wasn’t an audio disaster, and it wasn’t long before *that* that we hadn’t even played together at all. We have quickly learned the disadvantages of being a “studio band” a mistake we won’t make again.

Baby steps, man. Baby steps. Which reminds me that I’m not supposed to mention that Colin had to move a baby stroller out of the way to fit his gear in the Jeep. A fairly non-metallic moment, but like I said, I’m not supposed to mention that.

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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New Song – God Hates Emo

I’m not entirely sure what happened. We were supposed to be practicing. It could have been the weather, or the strange mood I was in (sullen with hints of paranoia, a splash of bitter, and two splashes of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum) More likely it was the Monster Energy Drink Josh finished just before he showed up.

Either way, our “practice” of some new song crashed to a unappealing halt, and we looked at each other disparagingly.

Then it happened. Suddenly, all three of our caffeine/alcohol indices crossed at one point on the creativity chart.

“Hey,” I said to Colin, “What was that punk thing you were doing before, you remember?”

“Sure,” he nodded and Launched. Josh followed. I started screaming, and I couldn’t tell if I was making lyrics up or possessed by a sudden bout of Tourettes’ Syndrome.

Regardless, a new song was flushed out in less than half an hour: God Hates Emo.

I can tell you that it’s loud, and fast, and punk. It ends with some chuggy/chanting bit. This is the song we open the show with. It is the exclamation mark at the end of the sentence: “Jagged Spiral Declares War On Emo!”

I’m sending a copy to Chris Carrabba, in hopes that he will repent and change his ways.

I’m sending another copy to the Pope, in the hopes that he will realize the error of his ways and leave Homosexuals alone, and go after Emo Bands instead.

I’m sending another copy to Suzanne Vega because I LOVE Suzanne Vega and send her daily updates of everything I do.

I’m sending another copy to Geddy Lee, with a request that we open for RUSH on the “Snakes and Arrows” tour.

I’ll let you know how this all pans out…

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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Video of Police Shutting Down Jagged Spiral Jam

We’ve always said that nothing can stop Jagged Spiral, but the other day we found something that did:

The Police Department.

To facilitate some carpet cleaning, Monday’s practice was moved from the basement to the garage, and it was obvious that we would be heard, but it was just for one time, and our practice session was to be short; from 5 till 8 PM, although the noise ordinance does not require us to turn down until 10PM.

We didn’t touch a single song on Days From Evil, instead making use of the practice to do a quick run through the new song Bad Kitty and to do more creative and structural work on two new songs, which are currently called Dragonslayer and Horrorcloud. (You will have to ask Colin about where “Horrorcloud” came from, I think it has to do with Pizza Luce’s Garlic Mashed Potato Pizza and his digestive system.)

We were totally rocking, the song structure for the songs was really gelling, and the Jagged Spiral Music Train got rolling, and then…


Knock, knock.

The music stopped. It was my neighbor, an older woman who keeps a very nice lawn. I don’t know her name. Um, she’s from two houses down the block.


“Hi, I just wanted to let you know we were just listening to you guys play, and I wanted to tell you, we Love your music!”


“Hell yeah! That band, the one that does that song ‘Iron Man’, you know the one?”

“Kind of.”

“You sound just like them!”


“Yeah! Anyways, we were just outside listening to you play, and had to come over and let you know we hope you will keep playing?”


“All summer long! That would be great!”

“Um, thanks.”

Strange. Of course, Colin and Josh heard the whole exchange, and were thrilled. New fans! Oh well, don’t let it go to your head. We picked up the reigns and started off again, the avalanche of music was building to a cresendo, nothing could stop it….


Knock, knock.

It was the police.

I’m not sure I would have accurately remembered the next couple minutes, being pulled from THE ZONE back into reality so quickly. Thankfully we had the videocamera running the entire time, and the police officer was kind enough to step right into the frame as though we had planned the whole thing:

Turns out the sound ordinance also has some nonsense about sounds being detectable within 50 feet. News to me. Guess I’m gonna have to look that one up.

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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The Birth of “Bad Kitty”

Practice today went well. It was the first practice with my new bass, and I couldn’t be happier. The tone is great, and it plays like buttah. After a couple hours of fighting the Dragon, my hand would need a break, but a couple straight hours with the new bass and I couldn’t even tell. Typing is more strenous than playing this bass. It’s wonderful to have a quality piece of equipment in the studio.

We started off with Bullets and Forced Entry (Since they are in the same tuning) then moved on to Hallowed Ground. While we are getting progressively better, it seems the longer we practice in each session, the worse we get. I suggested we practice LESS often.

After practicing, we worked on a new song, which came into some semblance of a shape, with a defined verse/chorus/bridge. After roughing in the structure, we recorded a couple passes of it. Then I presented some scat vocals I had been bellowing in the car, not much more than a melody, but some lines that kept repeating in my head.

We recorded the scat melody, and then Eleven presented some lyrics he had worked up when the song existed in another key. We opened up another track (Because Tracks Are Free you know). He recorded a rough of his vox , during which he ad-libbed some verses, including the line “Bad Kitty” which really clicked.

Whether the lyrics stay or not, the combination of “Bad Kitty” and “Wicked Tongue” will seed the theme of the song, and the rest of the lyrics, and no doubt get us into significant trouble with our significant others.

I did some reverb and compression on the mix, then burned it to CD. The vocal pieces seemed to layer pretty well, and I will review our work during my daily commute. Hopefully more lyrics will rise up from the chaos…

The song really pulled together quickly, only three sessions and we have rough outline of a real song. Scary.

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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A Jagged Jam (Take Two)

Another night of slaughtering our own works. This time with videotape to prove it. After grinding through “I Am Death”, “Hallowed Ground” and “Forced Entry” we took a shot at “Monsters” and came to several decisions:

  1. We suck.
  2. We suck just a teeny-tiny bit less than yesterday.
  3. My Bass simply can’t handle being tuned down to B for the song I Am Death.  How we actually recorded the song with this bass in that tuning is beyond me. So until I replace my bass guitar, we won’t be performing songs in that low key. It’s a shame, because I Am Death is quite fun to play. I’m in the market for a new bass, but my bank account is not.

After the practice, we tried jamming on some new material, and I came to a couple more decisions:

  1. It’s a whole lot easier to structure songs using cut-n-paste in Sonar. Identify the verse, the chorus, the bridge, the key changes Here and Here, cut/copy/paste and press play. Bam.
  2. Jamming the song live is WAY more fun than cut-n-paste.

We found a groove, and some new material manifested itself that might not have come out in a Studio session. I’m thinking that this approach of writing songs in the practice session instead of in the recording studio might result in songs that sound more ‘organic’ and less ‘synthetic’ than our “Days From Evil” material. When recording in the studio, the temptation to toss in a virtual instrument or sound effect is hard to resist.

This new writing process might result in more simple songs, less layers, and make recording easier, (Although “Let It Out” was supposedly a “Simple” song with FORTY TRACKS!!!!) but I can’t say yet whether it will make better songs or not. Time will tell.

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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A Jagged Jam

The second Official Jagged Spiral Jam met today, and let me tell you…

…it was Jagged.

Well, what the hell did you expect? For the past two years we’ve been a studio band. Pieced together one take at a time, and some song parts haven’t been played live for over a year!

So we ground out several sorry renditions of: Not Enough Bullets, Forced Entry, Hallowed Ground and I Am Death. We also played some new material. We also played some Virtua Fighter 4, and Josh completely slayed everyone. (It makes sense if you think about it: Percussion)

Practice, Practice, Practice. We just have to work at it, is all. And someday, if we keep practicing and focusing and giving it one-hundred and ten percent…

…we might finally be able to beat Josh at Virtua Figher 4.

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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