RPM Challenge 2016

So this year I am once again attempting the RPM Challenge in the hopes to get some music written and recorded and released to the wonderful of peoples of the world. For those of you who are not familiar with the RPM Challenge is, well it’s an online challenge that tasks musicians to write, record and release an entire 10 song record or 35 minutes music within the month of February. The only rules are that you record ten songs and burn it to a CD and send it to the RPM Challenge home base somewhere in New Hampshire. There’s no rule saying it has to be good, just completed. Though they encourage you to actually write all the music in February, as far I can tell there is no hard rule on that.


Two years ago when I first heard of the challenge and jumped on board I went with the whole write, record and release in one month option. I can’t really remember exactly how I approached it, but I seem to remember going through and writing the basic structure of the songs first, then once I had ten songs in the can, I went back and rerecorded and mixed them. I did manage to complete the project with a day or two to spare though I can’t say I’m too happy with the results. A few of the songs were decent tunes that I liked, while others were terrible and I hope no one ever listens to them. But as the whole nature of the challenge suggest, the fact I finished it is the main point, so in those terms it was a success.


Last year I attempted to do the challenge but ended up failing miserably and dropping out within a week or two. The reason being is I was working a 15 hr a day job Mon – Fri and was completely drained by the time the weekend rolled around I just never felt like working on music. A sad excuse I know, but it’s what happened for better or worse.


So this will be my third attempt at the challenge and I’m feeling pretty good about it. This time around I’m taking a slightly different approach than I did with the first one. My first RPM Challenge I went into each song with a complete blank slate for every song. I may have pulled out an old unused riff here and there, but for the most part I simply went in with nothing and did my best to crank out something in the time I allotted for myself, which was usually an hour or two each day. As I stated before I had mixed results using that method. This time I around I’m trying to come into the project a bit more prepared. I have already written and recorded the frame work for at least four songs, and hopefully once I finish this thing I will start writing a fifth tune. I also pulled a couple of tunes that I wrote back in NY a couple of years ago that sort fit in the musical theme of the project, just in case. So coming into the month of February I’ll have a good amount of material to work with, and I’ll only have to write four or five more songs during the challenge.  So this time around I’m quite a bit more prepared, and I have some pretty strong material, so chances are this could actually be half way good by the end of the month.


As I suggested this year’s project has a theme to it, at least a musical theme, which is black metal. I’m not sure why I chose that genre for my musical theme, but it was just what I was feeling when I started writing for the project. Of course it won’t be pure black metal for every song. Every one of the songs I’ve written so far have a bit of thrash and stoner metal thrown in there. Ultimately I have no idea what the final product will sound like when I’m finished, but I will be doing my best to maintain the black metal feel of this record though out the writing process.


And finally provided I actually finish this project, I plan on taking at five of the best songs from this challenge and using them to try and record a proper EP for release sometime later this year. For all intents and purposes, the challenge is essentially the song writing and demo phase of this project, so I will be performing everything, and probably will be all in the box. But when it comes for the actual EP I want to try and bring in some outside people for the production. I have an idea for a drummer, and possibly some music and vocal production and even design work with someone else. I’m also thinking I may want to try and record all the guitar parts using real amps whenever possible. Luckily for me I happened to work for a back line company that has as wide of a range of amps and instruments for me to choose from. I’m still thinking about the logistics of that, but that is something I’ve wanted to do ever since I started working for the company and it would be silly not to take advantage of the gear I have at my disposal.


So that is a nut shell is my plan for the RPM Challenge this year which will hopefully result in an EP or full length record by the end of the year. Wish me luck.

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Azag Thoth – Raise The Beast (Revival Performance)

So it’s been a real long time since I’ve posted anything on this page. Ever since I moved back to Pittsburgh and got back into working the concert industry my personal artistic projects have suffered greatly. I’m hoping I can fix that in this upcoming year. I have a number of various projects planned out that will hopefully make use of this long neglected cyber real-estate.


This first of these proposed projects is somewhat of a retrospective series of my past musical projects. I would like to eventually create videos for every song from every musical project I have been involved in over the last 25 years. Now I’m not sure if I’m actually going to release absolutely everything I’ve been involved with, but I would like to get a bunch of it out there. Some of the band and projects I have been taken part of I’m actually quite proud of, while others I’m totally embarrassed by. But either way I think it would be fun to get some of this stuff out there for anyone who might be interested in it to check out.


So the first project I would like to talk about is Azag Thoth, though not necessarily the best, it is perhaps my favorite project I have ever been involved in. As legend has it, Azag Thoth got its start back in 1991 in some Spanish classroom in a high school in Maryland. Saying I grew up about 400 miles away from this area, I of course was not involved at all in this project from the beginning, and in fact would not hear of it until around 1995 when my roommate at the time John introduced me to them.


From what I understand Azag Thoth was conceived as four or five theater nerds started writing silly satanic lyrics while blowing off their Spanish lessons. From there they decided to go ahead and write and record some music surrounding these silly lyrics and Azag Thoth was born. The catch to this project was only one of the original member’s involved had any musical background what so ever. But that didn’t stop these guys from renting some mixing and recording equipment and setting about making some noise on a Saturday afternoon. The ‘Exorcat Tour’ was the result of these shenanigans, an album that’s even tough for me to listen to. Though the music, if you can even call it that, was rather primitive in sound, all parties involved found great humor in its creation and decided to continue with the project, record three more efforts before the “band” went dormant for a number of years.


Occasionally a few of the members would get together and resurrect an old tune and polish it off a bit. And for the first video of this series I will be featuring one of those tunes. ‘Raise the Beast’ first appeared on the debut record ‘The Exorcat Tour’ in 1991. The version we are checking today was recorded somewhere in the late ’90’s, though I’m not sure the exact year. This “revival performance” was done solely with just two of the original members Zulumar and Brother John. I believe Zulumar performed all the guitar parts and half the vocal duties and Brother John handling all other aspects of the production. This mix in particular is not how this version is suppose to sound, but due to some glitch in the playback system of the time, a few of the vocals tracks got moved around, but everyone at the time thought it sounded cool, so this version is the one that ended up on the reunion record ‘Revival’. The cool interplay between both Zulumar’s and Brother John’s vocals on the second verse is not how it’s supposed to sound, but as stated before, we all thought it sounded cool, so we kept it. Somewhere out there is the proper mix of this song, though I don’t think I have a copy of it anywhere. Perhaps someday I will be able to track it down for this series.


So anyway, that is enough for today I think. I know this first entry is rather vague in details and demand more questions than it informs, but I got ton of these songs to publish and will need something to talk about over the next few months. Plus I really didn’t give this post too much thought before I started typing, so it suffered quite a bit for that lack of foresight. But hopefully as this series evolves I will get better at the whole planning and producing thing. This is a work in process, so please bear with me as I work it all out. Thanks.

You check out all of Azag Thoth’s music at:



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Kenny G Black Metal Exp. – Penetrated By Demons

Silly thing I did the other day.

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Whining Kain – Crap Music for No Reason

So it’s been a while since I’ve done anything with this page, mainly because I have been so busy trying to move back to Pittsburgh, that I have had very little time and inspiration for music and video’s. But now that I back and pretty much settled in, I’m hoping I can get back to posting regularly with this page.

This first project that I did here in Pittsburgh is basically a test to make sure all of my equipment and software was working properly, both music and video. The quality of all of it is crap. I just wanted get something recorded and posted to make sure I could still get it all done.

So here is the first project made in my new apartment/studio ‘Whining Kain’. The lyrics were inspired by the drummer of this band that was renting a drum kit from the back line company I just started working for. The guy wanted such particular stuff that no back line company is going to stock. The whole time I was talking to him, I just wanted to tell him ‘If you require such specific stuff, then you should just tour with it”, but that would not have been very professional of me. So instead I went home and write this crappy punk rock song. Enjoy

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System Test Before Dismantling Studio.

So it’s been quite awhile since I’ve been on here. I really wanted to post more on here during my last few weeks of living in NY, but the time just doesn’t seem to be there right now to post anything on here.

As some of you may know, I plan on moving back to Pittsburgh in about a week, so most of my time has been spent on making that happen. Part of the preparation for this move is getting my computer squared away. It’s been acting funny lately and it was suggested that I just re-install the OS and start over, so that’s what I did. I’ve spent most of the last two days downloading and installing software and setting everything up so when I move, I can put the studio back together and jump right back into. And I figured the best way to make sure everything was working was to do quick video project and post it online. That way I know it all worked before I took everything apart and moved.

So here is short short song I threw together and made a video for this afternoon. Nothing special at all, just making sure all of my software works and plays nicely with the equipment. This will probably be the last music and video project I do before I move to Pittsburgh. I have no idea when I will be able to get everything back and running so I can produce more and better content. We’ll just have to wait and see how everything pans out when I get there. Until then enjoy.


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HSC VIP Forum Song Writing Challnges

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on here. I’ve recently got a new job that has totally eliminated most of my free time. Hopefully that will change in the up coming weeks. But for now I wanted to put something out there to let people know I’m still here, and am occasionally making some music and videos.

For the last few weeks I’ve been taking part in these weekly challenges on this forum, Home Studio Corner VIP Members Forum. Each week some one comes up with a new challenge with certain rules and we are given a week to come up with a new song using those rules. Since I’m usually only able to work on these ideas on Saturday nights, I’ve been finding myself writing, recording and mixing these songs in a matter of a three or four hours. But dispite that short time, I’ve been coming up with stuff that I’m really enjoying. The recording and performances haven’t been the best, but the ideas are there, and I’m really digging what I have written so far. I’m hoping if we keep doing these challenges over the next two months or more, I will have enough good material to to record and release an EP or full length album by the end of the year.

But for now I thought I would share with you the songs I have produced so far. As I said these are pretty much just the demo’s of the songs, and they may change dramatically when I re-record them. But I still think these version are pretty cool and worth sharing.


So for the first week the challenge went as this:

Love song. No holds barred – love of bacon, love of country, love of HSC, etc (easy right? wait for it…)

  • The following word is FORBIDDEN from your lyric: love Surprised (and if you really want to push your creativity add heart and tears to the forbidden list)
  • Record a guitar or piano with vocal (at minimum) doesn’t have to be fancy at all or a full blow production if you have the time
  • Aim for 3.5 minutes in length because (hopefully we’ll have a lot of songs to listen to and give feedbackCool)
  • Tempo, structure, genre, are all up to you – no limits – whatever floats your boat”

For this one I initially wrote a sort of southern rock type song. But when it came down to writing lyrics and coming up with a melody, I went completely blank. So I decided to take it in a completely different direction. This is what I came up with:

Through out the week before I recorded this song, I had this idea of taking lame, cliched, over used love song phrases and putting them over some black or death metal type music, with growling vocals. The idea sounded funny to me, so I went with it. I’m not sure about any one else, but I’m amused by the results.


The rules for the second challenge went some thing like this:

pick three seemingly unrelated chords Like CMaj-AbMaj-Fminor (hint: these aren’t that unrelated because they all share at least one note in common “C”)

  • write a one chord song! Example: Fly Like An Eagle by (Steve Miller Band) – technically you could say there are three chords being implied over a pedal tone but I digress…
  • do something with chords outside of your norm: i.e. tune your guitar to an open tuning, or use a capo, etc”

This can be summed up with a couple of excerpts from my post on the HSC VIP Members Forum when I submitted this song:

And far as this song goes, this one was a rather interesting experiment for me. Though the end result may not sound like it, it was my first exploration into indy rock. I based the drum beats from a Metric song, and used their arrangement as a sort of template as I was building the structure of the song. At first I was using the same progression (G, B#, and F) over and over again in different positions, but that got monotonous, so I just played the chords in a different order for each section. Then just layered the keyboards over that structure.”

Now I really wanted to add vocals to this song, but…I was running out of time, and needed to keep the creative process going, so I played with the audio clips instead. It works really good in some parts, and in others it falls apart…”


This challenge is about interpreting the spoken word (a short speech, a poem or some other recorded spoken text) in such a way that the music adds a backdrop/an accompaniment/a musical illustration to the content of the text. The words could be your own and recorded by yourself, or they could be ‘borrowed’ and read by yourself (or friend or partner?) or they could be an actual recording of someone speaking”

I embraced this challenge head on. By this time I was into the groove of writing and producing the song in one evening, and just went into this one with a blank slate. This is what happened.

Again I’m just gonna quote what I wrote on the HSC VIP forum at the time.

I seem to be in a weird experimental stage as of late, and this song is no exception. the music is sort of a nod to my fondness of early Pink Floyd and Butthole Surfers.”

As far as the video goes, last weekend I was watching this documentary on experimental film makers, ‘Free Radicals’ and was inspired to make my own weird artsy type video.

So that’s the HSC VIP Members Forum weekly song writing challenges so far. Hopefully we’ll have more and more as the weeks progress. I’m really enjoying these so far. They remind of writing sessions with Azag Thoth, where we would write and record six or seven songs in one weekend. Many of those songs written during those session are some of my favorite songs I have ever been a part of. It’s been nice to be able to revisit that vibe with this project. Hopefully it continues.

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Nail Grinder – Ogdy

So it’s been while since I’ve posted anything one here, but I’ve been working on a few different projects and blogs lately, and haven’t had much of any finished projects I felt worthy of posting on here until recently.

I’d like to introduce my newest project Nail Grinder. The idea behind this project is to explore the more metal elements of my song writing. Basically I’ve come to realize that my death metal growl is by far better than my singing voice, so I’m trying to develop my extreme metal song writing skills to better suit my screams and growls. The name of the project comes from me grinding the top of my finger nail off at work a couple of weeks ago. I spent four or five days researching band name ideas, and every cool sounding metal name I could come up with seemed to be taken by some obscure black metal band. Nail Grinder was the first idea I came up with, that wasn’t taken by anyone, so I decided to go with that. I also chose this name because then it wouldn’t necessarily pigeonhole me into any particular sub genre of metal, allowing me to explore black metal, death metal, thrash metal, grindcore, stoner metal, or what ever comes to mind while I’m trying different ideas out.

This first song ‘Ogdy’ was is me trying the whole black metal thing out, though the end result doesn’t really sound much like black metal to me, but that was the starting point of the song. The lyrics are adaption of a Evenki chant, inspired by the Tunguska event of 1908. If you are not familiar with the Tunguska event, go check it out, it’s rather fascinating.


Anyway I have a number of songs already written for this project, and will hopefully be able to record and release them over the next few weeks.

Until then, enjoy.

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