Thursday, November 4, 2010

Friends, Family, and Recording!

Hi everyone,

Its been pretty hectic for The Live Debate in the last few weeks. First, we welcomed Tony Berg to The Live Debate family and he has already been a tremendous help in the studio as well as providing us with some great home cooked dishes (Risotto was killer). Tony brings great vibes and many years of recording experience that have allowed us captured some beautiful strings and brass for the album. We were only able to accomplish this with the help of another dear friend of ours, Tristan James who graciously offered up his personal studio to do some of our big ensemble recordings. Tristan, Tony, and Matthew are old friends from back in the ol' college days and we are so happy that Tristan has opened his studio to us. We are scheduled to be back in early Dec. to finish our string sessions, followed by brass recordings. Speaking of brass, we made a new friend with Justin Amolsch (Mucca Pazza, 7th Kind) who came in and laid down some sweet horns for Going Up. We knew Justin was going to be a blast to work with as soon as he pulled up on his bike that had custom holsters for all 3 of his horns(French Horn, Trombone, and Trumpet!). We look forward to working with Justin in the upcoming weeks and hopefully we will be able to get him on stage with us. Finally, we were lucky enough to get Anthony D'Amato back for a few days to do some more vocal tracking. Matthew and I are consistently surprised by the talent that is Anthony D'Amato. The music is sounding better then ever and I cant wait to release this record!

We are currently polishing up what we have and prepping for the upcoming sessions. I promise we will be sharing some more music just as soon as its ready. Besides our upcoming ensemble recordings we are re-tracking bass, guitar, and some drums. The checklist is getting smaller everyday for completing this album.

The leaves have fallen and the cold has arrived in Chicago this week, which makes for good times inside a warm studio. I hope everyone has a great holiday weekend and check back soon for some new music and video.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Updates and some other music

Hey Everyone, its Jody!

While everyone has been carving pumpkins and watching The Bears (0-12 on 3rd down conversions...really!?), we have been busy in the studio preparing for some big studio sessions coming up in the next few weeks. We are scheduled to record our string, brass, and horn ensembles for the whole album and Matthews been locked in the studio like a mad scientist transferring the arrangements to sheet music for our performers. We are excited to have our buddy Anthony (Tony) Berg coming into town to help us track everything. Tony has many years of experience in the studio and has previously worked with Matthew on several projects including Harvest 10 by James Mitchell. We are really looking forward to these sessions as it will be a major hurdle in finishing the album. Be prepared for some upcoming audio/video from our time in the studio...

In the past month or so, besides writing and arranging for the album, we have also worked on some different music to help build our portfolios and we even got a call from an old friend of mine Jon Wain to help out on a couple of tracks for The Oprah show. We had a blast having Jon in our studio and we are planning on working together again very soon. One of the tracks we did to help out our portfolios is this Soundtrack piece. We resurrected the song from some writing Matthew did last year and it turned out sounding pretty great. We have a couple of ideas for what to do with the track but those are going to have to wait for while until we finish some more of this album. Either way its a great jam and I particularly enjoyed listening to it while cruising down Lake Shore Drive with the sunroof open the other night. We would love to hear what you think of the track.

We hope you enjoy!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

American Terrorists & the Looming Composers

So this is what I see when I blink, rub the bio-crust out of my eyes, and stop staring at my computer screen for a second:

The Looming Composers. Jody brought them in from God knows where - a dusty curio in Chinatown? An estate sale at a creepy Victorian mansion? Perhaps a gypsy pressed it into his hands as revenge for him hitting her with his car. I have no idea. But I'm cursed with them.

I actually like the sketches themselves. The frame matches the table well, and having something on the wall goes a long way toward classing up an otherwise crowded studio. It's just the composers. They LOOM. I mean, look at the puss on this Baroque badass:

That's Bach (or John Belushi in a wig). See that expression? He knows he's a better composer than you are.

Under the arrogant eyes of old J.S., the stern eyes of Wagner, and the prissy effeminate eyes of Mendelssohn, I have been working on my own orchestra piece, "American Terrorists." For one week of work, I'm pretty happy with it. If you've made it this far you deserve a preview:

<a href="">American Terrorists Instrumental (9/25) by The Live Debate</a>

It gets bigger! Expect drums, vocals, and bass before long.

As always, I hope you all are doing great! Have you checked out our bandcamp site? You can listen to two or three full-length songs, and some other works in-progress. Let us know what you think!

iLike The Live Debate

Monday, September 20, 2010

Track Listings and Pending Releases

Hi everyone!

This is Jody. As I type, Matthew is working on a full orchestra composition for the album. Its a beautiful epic song with a bit of a controversial title, "American Terrorists." Once its done, it will melt faces. Matthew considers it to be his Magnum Opus! Its nice to hear this song come to life in the studio because we have had some what of a rough relationship with this track in particular during the writing process. I cant wait to post it to get some feedback. Im hoping to have something up by the end of the week. Im sure you'll love it...

We have been getting a lot of great feedback about Three Strangers, which we posted last week. I want to thank everyone for their input and encourage you to continue to do so. At this point, all the songs for the album have been tracked into our studio and are at varying degrees of being finished (As shown below with our very organized colored folders). Here is a screenshot of what will be the track listings on our album, which is listed under Operation Codename: Shopping for Shotguns:

Matthew and I have been juggling different tasks in hopes of meeting a couple of large goals that we have set for ourselves. We are on track to have the album finished and close-to-release by the end of the year. We are planning on tracking all of our live horns, strings, and brass in the second half of October and shortly after we plan to have vocal specialist Anthony D'Amato come back out and lay down some sweet melodies for us and I cant wait. In the mean time, we will continue to post our progress on this blog and we love the support and critiques.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Three Strangers" and the Passage of Time

This tune is called "Three Strangers." It's the rough cut. The album version will feature live strings and a few more fresh coats of paint. Comments, ideas, and critiques are not just welcome, but really useful. Please keep 'em coming.

You will also notice the lush vocal stylings of Mr. Anthony D'Amato on this track. Anthony is considering moving here to Chicago some time between now and January. He has no idea, but his move is already a done deal. My tazer and chloroform just arrived in the mail.

<a href="">Three Strangers (8/25) by The Live Debate</a>

Here also is a fresh mix of "The Fisher King."
<a href="">The Fisher King (8/28) by The Live Debate</a>

I have always been fascinated by ancient mythology, since childhood. The Greek Gods were an early fave, like I think they still are for kids. One of my piano students dressed as Athena for Halloween last year, after all. But I enjoyed the Norse, Egyptian, Celtic, and African tales quite a bit too. They made an early impression.

So now I write music that is tinged with the religious, or at least, the mythic. This song is about the swift, unyielding passage of time, directly written as a complaint to the goddesses that govern it. Time goddesses are pretty common, even in cultures separated by a lot of space. In Greece, these were the Moirae; in Rome, the Parcae; Japan has a mother-maiden-crone equivalent; as does Norse mythology, the Norns. There are more. All of these civilizations represented time as three women, usually as future, present, and past. They are often depicted smiling, but equally often described as cruel.

In the past year or two, my life has changed dramatically. I've moved in with my true-love boyfriend, I grew a beard, left boystown; I have a shiny new home studio and a new band to use it for, I am jobless and searching in a very uncertain economy, yet I'm more certain than ever that music is my destiny. As much as I love my life and love what it (and I) have become, time moves mercilessly quick, changing my shape, my emotions, my work, my friendships, my flesh. Perhaps I won't be happy forever. It feels out of my control when I consider it, even though I never felt out of control any step along the way.

Do you ever look in the mirror, see the skull behind your face, and suddenly glimpse a person you've never seen before? Perhaps a spectre you'll look like at sixty, or a ghost of what you looked like at six? Or what you would look like if you had chosen everything differently? Did you ever have a choice? Is the person looking back at you from the mirror the person you were always meant to be? Or is the person looking back just a passing stranger, someone you will only be for an instant before the goddesses of Time put all your cards back in the deck and shuffle you up?

Do you ever look in the mirror and feel like a stranger to yourself?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Adam's Castle and "Vices"

Hi everyone!

Just wanted to write a quick post about some friends of mine in New York. They have a great label, Triple Down Records. There is some awesome talent behind the label, including one my favorite bands of 2008, The Forms. Everyone on the label is great though. Real musicians.

I really wanted to write about Adam's Castle though. Adam's Castle is the beloved flagship band of Triple Down, and they have a new album, Vices, coming out October 19th. What's awesome is, every week or leading up to the release, they'll be giving away a track or two, along with some original art to complement the tunes. It's an exciting, DIY kinda way to do a CD release; precisely the kind of thing Jody and I sit around every day and talk about doing. It makes the experience of finding and enjoying new music something of an interactive event. Very, very cool.

If you sign up early for their "Rollout Club," you get the tracks and art emailed to you, along with some other goodies. You can check it out and sign up here. I hope you do! Support your DIY, homegrown musicians! We are the free therapy of the universe.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Album Update and Adam Watts

Hi everyone! First of all, thank you so much for your feedback on "The Fisher King." We love the comments and the criticism. It's really helped me make some great changes to the song. Expect to hear a fresh, re-arranged, re-mixed version of the tune soon.

Album update: we have nearly half the album done. We have lots of tunes that we're planning on letting you hear as soon as possible. More on that later.

Mr. Anthony D'Amato's last visit was only five days in the middle of July, but in that time, he laid down vocals for four tunes: "Follow My Lead," "Catch Fire," "Going up," and "Three Strangers." I'm really excited about these songs. They are, respectively: a jazz tune, a band + chamber orchestra rock song, an electronica / orchestral dance song, and a ballad. I consider myself truly lucky to be a composer in this era of mutable, multi-genre music. Composers today can, with only a decent computer, make music with more authentic, electronic, and inventive sounds than ever before. Think of what Bach would have done with a mac pro! Probably would have melted my brain, is what.

In the meantime, we've entered the very early stages of an artistic collaboration with a very talented gentleman and longtime chum, Mr. Adam Watts. Adam is one of the geniuses at Travesty Games, an indie game development company just hitting the scene. As a game nerd, I'm thrilled for his new business and his debut appearance as a company at Gen Con Indy this year. As an artist, I'm thrilled to get a chance to work with him. He didn't just design the rules of two new games this year, Kill Ball and Psiduel, he's also the talent behind the gorgeous, funny, shadowy art design of both games.

He also has a degree in animation, just in case you were thinking someone needed a nomination for Renaissance Man of the Year. It's that talent we're hoping to capitalize on. The Live Debate debut music video anyone?

Hopefully our next post will give you something to listen to. We just have to decide what to release and when. Hope you all are well and happy!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Anthony & The Fisher King

The studio is officially "finished," which is to say that we've spent as much money as we could on it without scaring our significant others into breaking up with us.

For a couple of bum composers assembling their first home studio, it ain't a bad setup! A shiny new mac pro (in a ghetto-rigged case), the novation SL62MK1 as our MIDI controller, a beautiful Project Mix ProTools I/O (thanks to James), and a host of really powerful, really versatile programs: Native Instruments Komplete and Superior Drummer, just to name a few. We also got to use a wonderful Blue Cactus mic, on loan to us from the very generous, very dear Tony Berg.

Only two days after we installed the last program, we took the studio on a test run with a new friend and extra-super awesome vocalist Anthony D'Amato.

I seriously believe it was destiny that drew us to Anthony. In the course of auditioning vocalists, we came across a Craigslist ad Anthony had recently posted. He announced himself as a singer passing through Chicago with just one free day. After listening to his voice on a few youtube videos, we had to meet this guy.

It turns out that Anthony D'Amato is awesome,and by awesome, I mean EXTRA awesome. What a nice guy, and what an incredible voice! After a happy first meeting we invited Anthony to come and stay with us for a few days to record some vocals and to have a lot of fun making music. The product is this: "The Fisher King," now freshly redone with lots of bold voices. We have a few more in the can we'll be working on for Mr. D'Amato's next visit in a few weeks. Stay tuned!

<a href="">The Fisher King (featuring Anthony D'Amato) by The Live Debate</a>


Monday, May 10, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

We now graduate from having a Burgeoning Blog to the next stage of blog-evolution: the Neglected Blog. And in only one month! We are quite proud.

There is good reason for the neglect, though! Jody and I have seen the end of a major project, as our dear friend James Mitchell heads to sunny California. I've worked closely with James on a metric ton of music for 5 years now, and I'm really sad to see him go. He was just accepted to one of the nation's most competitive art schools, so we are sad to see him go, but thrilled for his success.

All of our work so for has pretty much taken place in James' apartment. Until last week, his attic was home to a world-class studio. Over the years James has let us camp out up there, sometimes for weeks. He's definitely going to Heaven. But since we knew that the studio wouldn't be in Chicago forever, we've been in there working as often as we could.

So... what blog-neglect excuses have I given so far? Job ending, tons of studio time... Right! Also, I moved. AND, we're going to try and set up a smaller, but similar studio setting to the one James had. Here's Jody chilling in the new studio:

Green! Specifically, Peppermint Leaf Green. So says the paint can.

After a couple weeks of moving and painting, we're finally ready to take a breath and work on whatever we can while we assemble our studio. Currently, we have everything but a computer. It's pretty sad: in 2010, a studio without a computer is like a shotgun without zombies. Fun, but pointless.

During the last rotation in James' studio Jody and I wrote songs at the rate of about one every three days. A few of these songs have lyrics and everything, all waiting for that magic vocalist to enter our lives. In the last two weeks, we created 5 distinct, semi-finished works. None got more than three days' work, so don't judge too harshly.

<a href="">The Fisher King by The Live Debate</a>

<a href="">Going Up by The Live Debate</a>

Please, as always, let us know what you think, of the music, the studio, anything! Thanks for stopping in to see what we're up to. What are you listening to right now?


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

the H4N ZOOM

We have a new toy. It records on 4 tracks seamlessly and quickly, for up to a day if we need it to. The H4N is just a handheld recorder, but it's been great for gathering audio and recording practices. Here's a sample of a new song we're working on, recorded, mixed and bounced out an hour or two ago. Easy as pie. More on this new song in a future post. The audio is pretty great! So great in fact, that you can hear my crummy little piano bench and Jody's bass make some squeaking sounds in there. It sounds a little like two mice having a knife-fight.

<a href="">Chicago (Chorus Clip) by The Live Debate</a>

The H4N is about the size of one of those boxes that you get your checks in. I love living in the future.

Also, here's a rare picture of Jody, circa 1984, using the H4N to bust ghosts.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

No Songs Left Behind

By the time Jody and I rolled around to this "Great List" idea, we'd been friends for a few years. Music industry friends, to boot. That means that we've been suggesting music to each other over the past few years regularly. A lot of what we both think is "Great" in contemporary music is music we've been talking about before the Live Debate began.

So, to honor THOSE great songs, I just wanted to throw up a few. I haven't consulted Jody, but I suspect each song listed below would meet his standards for the List. It's been a few years for each, and I love them all still. What songs have you loved over the last two or three years?

The National - "Fake Empire" Jody and I love this guy's voice, and pretty much every inch of this dreamy, heartfelt song.

Bloc Party - "Signs" This song is just awesome. The saddest dance tune ever.

Bat For Lashes - "Siren Song" Can you tell how sentimental and sappy I am? I love music that tugs at the heartstrings, and believe me, this one really does.

Beirut - "In The Mausoleum" The songwriter/producer is the today's composer. In Beirut, I hear the music Bela Bartok would be making today. I love how amazing they sound, just in a living room, just jamming, just on a handheld camera... The ultimate in Do-It-Yourself, right? You have no idea how much I want to be at that piano in this video.

Radiohead - "Reckoner" How on earth do you pick just one great Radiohead song? As I was trying to, I started up "In Rainbows" and I'm almost at the end of the album now. I think Thom Yorke will be remembered as one of this generation's greatest composers.

Is that enough gushing for one day?

Monday, February 22, 2010

When I go to check the news... is what I see:

Wonderful. It turns out that my state has no money.

Today, I played The Books for Jody.

We also rolled around to an obvious classic.

When you listen to it, think of us in poor, broke, mismanaged Illinois.

Friday, February 19, 2010

"Catch Fire" ending

Here is the ending that I was performing in the video, along with our first draft of the arrangement to go with it.

<a href="">Catch Fire (ending in progress) by The Live Debate</a>

"Catch Fire" video 1

The first song we began our little adventure with is called “Catch Fire.” It’s a weird song. It starts off as stable, piano-driven rock. By the end, the song changes into something of a grand march, with horns blaring and cymbals crashing. The song is still a work-in-progress, and we’ll be posting videos and music clips as time goes on.

This clip is rated R for language. We beeped it, but you can totally tell.

The footage is all from the first week of January, when this project was just getting started. Hopefully the next time you hear the song, you’ll hear a longer passage of music and drums (maybe even vocals!). Let us know what you think!


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Imogen Heap, "Cumulus"

Jody doesn't know it yet, but this is going to be my submission of Great Music for the day. It's unusual for Imogen, if you know her. She's highly vocal, and usually less abstract than this piece implies. The piece rests on chamber instruments, beautifully composed, over lush electronic soundscapes. I find it both inventive and gorgeous. What do you think?

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Follow My Lead" and "Catch Fire"

More samples from our January in the studio:

<a href="">Follow My Lead (Verse Clip) by The Live Debate</a>

<a href="">Catch Fire (2nd Half) by The Live Debate</a>



Jody sent this interview to me a few weeks ago.

It's a great interview. It's mostly about "selling intimacy," which is an idea I'm very keen to. The last line, however really got me. It's where he writes:

"If it's great, let it go. You'll do fine. If it's not great, figure out what great is and do that."

So, we've decided to try and figure out what great is. We're working on this project every day together, and at the start of our days, each one of us has a song we play for the other. This song can be from any time, any country, or any musician(s). We offer each one up as an example of GREATNESS to the other, and analyze it, talk about it, and enjoy it.

We've been having a blast with it so far. I avoided rock music as a child for no discernible reason, so Jody's exposing me to Zepplin. Jody never went to school like the rest of us normal folk, so he's never heard any classical music at all. We're having so much damn fun with this project, though, we're gonna post the whole thing on the blog. Think you know a piece of music that will totally "wow" us? Post it! We love hearing and talking about great music.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"Ambition," no vocals.

This is a small sample of the stuff we've been working on. Our work on this piece took place between January 11-15. We'll be coming back to it when we get back into the studio for a lengthy phase.

The track has no vocals now, but it will in the end. This song features several marching band percussion pieces. We hope to recruit local high school students to play our shows. What do you think?

<a href="">Ambition by The Live Debate</a>

The Live Debate

Hello everyone. This is Matthew.

Jody and I are starting a band and we pretty much want to take over the world. I hope you will want to help us.

We spend our days working on projects of various sizes. We want to complete a fantastic album this year. We plan to challenge ourselves with occasional mini-projects to keep our ears fresh and our skills sharp. And we will be exploring music, new and old, to try and pinpoint what it is that makes some music great, and some music merely good.

We're making our music from scratch; at the moment we only are two people in what will eventually be a four-person band, and we only have six songs written of the twelve we plan to finish by the end of the spring. But we've only just gotten started.

I'm excited to share as much of this experience as possible with you. Jody and I love the process of making music, and as we work, we'll be showing you as much of that process as we can (and you can stand). I'm excited to hear your thoughts, your comments, and your contributions as The Live Debate grows.

What is the greatest piece of music you've ever heard?