Past

The story of my love affair with music.

1965-1976

Raised on pop, light rock, and funk/soul. Disco is big toward the end of this period. I love Donna Summer and am sure I'll marry her. I start playing clarinet in the latter part of this period. I start liking Rock music, so Uncle loans me Woodstock eight-track tape and talks to me about Jimi. He also loans me Black Sabbath eight-track tapes. I can't comprehend either of these yet.

1977

KISS. Gene. Paul. Ace. Peter. Boom!! Head explodes. Life changes. I no longer want to be an astronaut. I know I will be a rock star. I acquire Harmony electric guitar and small amp from Uncle. I somehow convince my mom to buy me KISS / Love Gun, which I don't like much at first. Then, I buy KISS / Rock and Roll Over with my own money. Blammo! The first song -- "I Want You" -- changes my life. Slightly later comes Nugent, AC/DC, and RUSH.

1978

All KISS all the time. Plus RUSH. Plus Van Halen, by way of friend John, by way of his much older/cooler brother. Eddie's "Eruption" made my head explode in a new way. "There's no way a human being could play that on a guitar. Right?" (The thinking of a 13-year-old who'd never seen Eddie play.) Really loving RUSH more. And Nugent. And Ronnie Montrose / Jump On It album. And the band Angel. By now, I had most or all of KISS'es albums on vinyl.

Gooch & John "Van Halen"

1979

Dad magically buys me a Gibson Les Paul Deluxe in Tobacco Sunburst, which is a mind-bending gift. Start band named Fury with friends. We play junior high talent show. We're local rock stars. Life is good.

1980

Total RUSH freak. Still playing with band Fury. Getting better. Getting cocky. Think I'm the shit on guitar. I hear brand new RUSH song "The Spirit of Radio" single on the radio for the first time, while with my dad at his workplace (probably dental appointment). Cannot. Believe. It.

1981

Even more of a RUSH freak. RUSH / Moving Pictures is released! The Universe turns on its axis (if it has one). I experience music in new ways now. I decode and learn "YYZ", especially the crazy drum polyrhythm after the triangle, and teach it to musician friends.

Mike & Gooch Listening to UFO and April Wine

1982

Recording self and friends with portable boom box. Still hugely influenced by Randy Rhodes, rest his soul. It is pretty obvious in everything I play during this period. And RUSH.

  • Feb 1982 - Me (16) playing organ bass pedals with feet while playing guitar:
  • May 1982 - Guitarist buddy Mark (16) and I (17) creating some original Metal meatiness:
  • May 1982 - Mark and I having fun with harmony neck-tapping: 
  • Sep 1982 - Jamming alone in bedroom: 
  • Oct 1982 - Drummer buddy Kyle (15) and I (17) doing some Heavy Metal free jamming at Kyle's house: 
  • Oct 1982 - Kyle and I playing "YYZ", which Kyle had only heard a couple times and had never played: 

 

1983

By this time I am doing a lot of sound-on-sound "multi-track" recording. And I've acquired a Korg KPR-77 drum machine and a Korg Poly-61 synth. My multi-tracking method is to record a part on one cassette deck. For the next "track", I send that sound through a little Radio Shack mixer to a second cassette deck, and add the new sounds (e.g., guitar part). The first "track" is always my programmed drums. Then guitar. Then "bass" (synth). The down side is compounding hiss on every bounce. But it works!

  • 17-year-old me makes big bold Prog Metal instrumental madness called "And They're Off!":
  • More Metal mayhem -- and instrumental called "Heavy Stuff" with a flying lead solo:

 

1984

Still making sound-on-sound recordings, I acquire the newly released Tom Scholz Rockman. Still using KPR-77 and Poly-61.

  • Miked amp on left, Rockman on right. This RUSH Sabbath tune is crying out for vocals. It is called "Conquered Death":
     

1985

 I'm becoming more interested in composition and experimenting with new sonic textures. I am recording on a Tascam 4-track multitrack recorder, which I  borrow from work. I work at Marshall Music in Lansing, Michigan and I'm allowed to "evaluate" equipment, you know... for my job. Later my boss reads me the riot act for "borrowing" the 4-track (waaaaayyyyy, breath, aaaaaaaaaaaay) too long.

  • Ovation acoustic guitar plus atmospheric electric-guitar-plus-E-Bow "flutes", very much inspired by Phil Keaggy, called "Acoustic with E-Bow":
  • This one is all E-Bow. Even the "french horn". A piece called "Con-fugue-sion in E-Bow Minor":
  • Inspired by a number of influences, but somewhat more obviously by Al DiMeola and Phil Keaggy, called "DiMeola Keaggy":
  • Trying my hand at something different, using an arpeggiator on a Korg DW-6000 and adding guitar, called "Korg and Me". The guitar lines were mildly influenced by Ted Nugent's "Homebound" from his "Cat Scratch Fever" album:

Early Studio Experience

1986

I've moved to Maryland. I'm playing in, and traveling with, a Christian outreach band called Network. I'm working full-time and doing Network part-time. I'm exhausted, but I'm having fun. I don't record anything for myself during this period, because I'm too busy.

1987

Still going strong with Network. Still exhausted. Still having fun. Still not recording anything for myself yet.

1988

I am exiting Network so I can do my own thing musically. I've borrowed a friend's Tascam multi-track recorder. I'm recording soundtrack music for video production. My work at this point is a lot more soundtrack-y than song-y.

The most significant musical development during this period is the major uptick in my drum programming prowess. At this point, I'm really into Dave Weckl, and generally funky/syncopated drum parts, which is reflected in my programming on a couple of these.

  • Though I've owned a Yamaha DX-7, I don't own one at this juncture. The Network keyboardist, Dave, owns one, so I used it and a borrowed Roland drum machine for this piece called "Video Music II":
  • Light and hopping, this is another intended for video soundtrack music called, excitingly, "Video Music III":
  • Dark and brooding synth-based piece, this is another in the series of video soundtrack music, "Video Music IV":
  • "Video Music V - Amazing Grace E-Bow" (with a lot of tape hiss):
  • I bought a Korg M-1! The rest of these are composed on the M-1. Snippet of "Video Music X - Freedom Fight", this is another synth-based thing:
  • A leap in drum programming as I am reaching for new ground based on what I am listening to at the time (Dave Weckl). This is "Video Music XII - Elated":
  • Another example of stretching on the drum programming, though not as stretchy as the last one. This is "Video Music XIII - Happy Elephant":

 

1989

Gordon, a longtime friend, is stationed in Korea, away from his family (at least initially). I create an audio story called "The Adventures of Gordon Strong" and I create an original soundtrack to it. I send it to him.

  • The last piece on Adventures of Gordon Strong is "California Rock". It is a bouncy, light Rock instrumental that could use vocals. It reminded me of stereotypical California Rock of the mid-80s. There's a fun solo trade-off section in the middle. All guitar parts are recorded direct through a new Zoom 9001 Advanced Mutli-effects Processor: 
     

1990-1996

I meet someone, get married, go to Computer Learning Center full-time for six months, graduate with honors, get a job, have a daughter in '95. Life is good. Very full, but very good.

I am giving guitar lessons part time. I have been digging The CranberriesPearl Jam, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Neil Young+Pearl Jam, Hum, and especially Shudder to Think.

1997

The original members of KISS have reunited. I'm listening to a lot of KISS again, after a 15 year break. I go see KISS locally with a friend from work.

I buy a fairly expensive-for-the-time Steinberger headless guitar made entirely from space-age material. Amazing instrument. I am playing guitar a lot again. I am beginning to write, and I need a way to record my ideas.

I buy a Yamaha RX-7 drum machine. I buy a Turtle Beach sound card (remember those?) for my Windows machine. I start using a DAW called Digital Orchestrator Pro by Voyetra Turtle Beach. I've been through a lot emotionally, which has become rich soil from which new music is sprouting very quickly. I intend to release a full-length album called Bald Face Lie in 1998.