More verb.

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Give me a little more slack on this XLR. Little more … little more … woof! That’s good. Now point the speaker down over the side of the hole. There’s a good chap.

Right, well … you’ve caught us in the midst of a pretty typical dilemma for bands as unsuccessful and under-resourced as Big Green. You probably know what I’m talking about (because I sure as hell don’t). You’ve come to expect us to scrape our way through every situation, living in squat houses and lean-tos, taking the cheap seats on pretty much any mode of transportation you can name. So what the hell – we’re not some fancy-ass successful band that can afford racks of expensive gear. We’ve got a bunch of second-hand kit that’s held together with masking tape … because that’s what our audience demands.

So, when you need reverb, and you don’t have an expensive effect unit, or even an old, cranky one, what the hell do you do? I’ll tell you what – you just lower a microphone down the tunnel to the center of the Earth that’s in your basement and then pipe in your tracks. It’s a little boomy, but it beats the hell out of the reverb spring in my antiquated fender twin. This isn’t the first time we’ve had to go old school – and by “old school”, I mean effects that are almost entirely environmental in nature, like getting echo by scrambling up a hillside and shouting real loud. (Just be sure to bring a jar with you so you can catch the echo.)

No dice, Mitch?It’s when you get into things like distortion that this approach gets a little tricky. Sometimes we just plug a guitar cord into Marvin (my personal robot assistant) and have him jump in place; though that ends up sounding a bit more like tremolo. I was thinking of asking Mitch to attach a leslie rotating horn to Marvin’s head so that we can get a better B-3 sound while he’s jumping up and down, but Mitch would probably just wave that suggestion off. (He’s kind of picky when it comes to big ideas.)

Thing is, if you have a big empty space, or even a little one (like, say, between your ears), you can get a decent reverb effect. Tech tip for the day from Generation Reverb.

Drill down.

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There’s a hole in daddy’s hammer mill where all the money goes. At least that’s what it feels like. Christ on a bike, why is it every mad science idea ends up costing a fortune? What, between the magnetos and the giant vacuum tube-driven linear amplifiers, we are completely tapped out.

I should explain. Mitch Macaphee, our mad science advisor and inventor of Marvin (my personal robot assistant), has plugged together a special elevator-like tram car dubbed the Giardiniera Twelve for us to ride to the center of the earth using the handy hole to the center of the earth we now have in the hammer mill basement. We’ve already sent Marvin down a few floors for a look see, and it seems promising. He came back with a hotdog and a Dodgers pennant, so my guess is that we have found a tunnel to the 1950s. Think of all the songs we can lift!

That said, there is a bit of a problem monetizing this idea. I understand there may be intelligent life down under, but what are their tastes? Do they like 50s pop music or 90s grunge? It’s even conceivable that Where's all the work at?they may not like either of those things … though that would be okay, because we don’t really play either of those things. That said, finding an audience on the surface of the Earth is hard enough. Finding one in the mantle or (God forbid!) in the chewy nougat center of the Earth will probably be next to impossible.

And then there are the logistical challenges. Yes, they are many. It wouldn’t be so bad if we were an un-amplified banjo-toting accordion-squeezing polka band, but we are not that (at least this week). I ask you – how the hell are we going to pack amps, a drum set, an electric piano, a stack of guitar cases, and PA components – along with ourselves – into what amounts to a smallish elevator? Mitch is working on a solution as we speak, but I’m not sanguine. The last time we tried to do something like this, he pulled out a shrink-ray that reduced my Martin D-1 to the size of an ashtray. Now I use it as an ashtray. Not real good.

So we’re not that close to plugging that hole. Let’s see what Mitch can do … and how much it will cost.

Level nine.

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That’s not a gondola, Mitch. That’s a freaking elevator. Six weeks of screwing around, scraping up all of the coins out of our various seat cushions, and what have we got – an elevator to the center of the Earth. You don’t need an elevator to go there – the gravity will take you!

Right, well, as you can see, we’re grappling with the contradictions that fall out of having a tunnel to the Earth’s core in the basement of your squat house. I’m sure you’ve had days like that. Why is it a tunnel and not a mere hole? Well, it is the intended use of the thing that defines the thing, and it is our intent to use it as a pathway to fame and fortune … or at least, remuneration equal to the cost of a cheap sandwich at the local diner. Big Green doesn’t aim high, people – that’s why we’re looking down a hole to the center of the Earth and seeing opportunity.

And though I may have just read the riot act to Mitch, an elevator like the Giardiniera Twelve isn’t necessarily a bad thing to have when you have a hole of this type in your basement. It might prove to be damned convenient, particularly if some of the subterranean strata call for a closer look. Marvin (my personal robot assistant) can act as the operator – he’s got the right gravitas (or lack of same), and of course he’s been down the hole once already. In fact, it’s thanks to the insta-matic camera Mitch installed in Marvin’s stomach that we have any idea of what’s going on down there. Apparently, quite a lot.

Squx?Just as an example: nine levels down, there’s a cavernous opening that leads into what looks like a geological circus tent. Interestingly, the stalactites look like rhesus monkeys and the stalagmites look like sea turtles. An enterprising young robot assistant might make his or her way down there with a box of paints, go to work, and before you know it you have the Petrified Creatures Museum. Either that or the lawn ornament shop that, purely by chance, was established right next door.

That’s just one level, folks. Lots more where that came from. Get ready to crank up the pit elevator – this band is going down!

Going down.

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I wish to hell this thing had an emergency call box in it. Or head cushions – that would be nice. Not to mention some kind of shock absorbing device on the bottom. Am I being to engineer-y? Sorry.

Well, our mad science advisor Mitch Macaphee has unveiled his concept gondola. He’s calling it the “Giardiniera Twelve”, but it beats the hell out of me why. I think that’s what he had for lunch last Thursday. He’s got some kind of naming system going, that’s all I know. In any case, it’s kind of a cramped little thing, taller than it is wide, cylindrical, made of some unnamed shiny metal that I will refer to as inobtanium. In all frankness, it kind of looks like an air drop bomb of some kind, without the tail fins. Coincidence?

Anyhow, there’s a pocket door on one side. The idea is that you climb into this thing, you lower it down the hole, and when you line up with some interesting subterranean stratum, the door slides open and you step out to take a look. Sounds simple enough, right? Ride down to level 47, open the portal, and start looking for gigs. What could possibly go wrong? Okay, that's a thing.Marvin (my personal robot assistant) will actually take the helm of the Giardiniera Twelve (or G12, for brevity’s sake), sitting in the cockpit like a crane operator, pulling levers and waving his claw over art nouveau-looking glass lights that pulse in response. Very futuristic.

Christ on a bike, after all this crazy talk about urban gondolas, who on Earth would have imagined that we would be the first to actually implement one? Like so much in life, innovation is driven by circumstance. Hey, we’ve got a hole to the center of the Earth. We’ve got this thing and it’s golden – we’re not giving it away for nothing! That is to say, we may as well make the best of an odd situation. And if Mitch thinks we can make money by jumping into a glorified tin can and dropping to the Earth’s core, that’s good enough for me. Sort of. (Talk me out of it.)

Words worth.

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I’m still not sure this is a good idea. The memory of the last time we tried this still haunts me. And that Morlock with the sandals never answers my postcards. And yes, I’ve been dropping them down the hole. Jesus!

Okay, so someone, I won’t say who (Mitch), thought it would be a great idea to do a second subterranean tour, since we now have the equivalent of a superhighway to the chewy nougat center of the Earth. Mitch plans to fashion some kind of urban gondola (very popular in small post-industrial cities these days) that will allow us to treat the mega-hole in our floor like a kind of futuristic cargo elevator. I don’t remember where I heard this, but it seems like this mode of transportation might be problematic, to say the least, particularly when you’re dealing with magma and other natural hazards.

Mitch isn’t worried, of course. In his world, there’s a mad scientific fix for everything. That must be a nice feeling. When stuff goes wrong for the rest of us, we have little to fall back on other than playing instruments and/or writing songs, and maybe playing a few rounds of mumbly peg. (That doesn’t usually help, but it does give us something to strive for, since none of us knows how to play mumbly peg.) Everyone needs some kind of solution. For Marvin (my personal robot assistant), it’s a seven percent solution of machine oil and antifreeze.

Yeah, that looks like a maybe.Why does songwriting help? Don’t know, exactly. Ask Matt – he’s more prolific than me by a mile. As I’ve said before, he comes up with songs while walking the length and breadth of his rural domain, composing them out loud like a latter-day Ewan MacTeagle. Me, I take forever to crank out a few lines. My muse is like an old, rusty typewriter with an even older ribbon, very parsimonious and begrudging of every line. Even so, if we do undertake this underground tour, we should have plenty of material that hasn’t been heard down there before. Nothing the middle-Earth denizens hate more than old, recycled material.

So, yeah, we’ll consider it. Though God only knows why.

Holism.

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This place is a freaking mess. No, we still don’t have garbage collection. You have to pay taxes to get that, Mitch, and we’re off the grid – remember? Guess this lot will have to go down the tunnel to the center of the Earth. It’s like having the world’s biggest trash incinerator.

Oh, hi. As you can see, we are making the kind of obvious mistake that protagonists in science fiction movies make all the time – abusing mother nature just to solve some petty human problem, namely, generating too much trash. That goes on for the first couple of reels, then some ungodly creature emerges from the bowels of the Earth and goes on a murderous rampage stopped only by some unexpected intervention by germs or gravity or something – a turnaround that redeems the value of nature in the eyes of middle class moviegoers. Yeah, well … we are asking for that.

The fact is, once there’s a hole in the floor, you have an almost unstoppable urge just to keep dropping things into it. I think Marvin (my personal robot assistant) may have dropped some of our master tapes down into the memory hole. A true digital native like Marvin has no concept of tape recorded sound – God no! Music encoded onto a long ribbon of magnetic film? Impossible! Of course, he himself runs, in part, on vacuum tubes and toggle switches, so one might think he would have some empathy for users of retro Wait. You dropped it where??technologies. In any case, down the memory hole they go … unless I left them in my other pants. Marvin? Have you seen my other pants?

Right, so … that’s not the only thing we’ve been up to. We’re hip-deep in production for our next tranche of Ned Trek songs, about seven or eight of them by last count. This is why our podcast THIS IS BIG GREEN has become, well, kind of infrequent – too many musicals! In any case, we’ve amassed a backlog of about 60 Ned Trek songs thus far, seven of which are included in the podcast I just recently posted on NedTrek.com – episode 24: Whom Gods Deploy, which originally appeared in our August 2015 TIBG podcast. So … it hasn’t all gone down the hole quite yet.

Dig it.

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Well, if we needed storage space, it would be a good thing. Honest, Abe – where are you going to find enough junk to make it worthwhile? We can’t even afford shoes, for chrissake.

Oh, hi. Yeah, I’ve been having a little conversation with Antimatter Lincoln about an idea he cooked up this week. Let me see if I can explain. With the help of Mitch Macaphee’s Particle Beam Generator™, we now have a tunnel to the center of the Earth in our basement. The downside of that, of course, is that it has the potential to act as a volcanic vent, sending an ocean of magma up from the planet’s chewy center and wreaking havoc on our entire community. (Also, it tends to whistle as the world turns.) What’s the upside of having Earth’s biggest hole? We’re still working on that.

Antimatter Lincoln piped up with a suggestion that we put shelving units around the walls of the hole and use it to store nick knacks, junk, souvenirs, and sporting trophies. Capital idea, except that we don’t have any of those things, particularly the trophies. Besides, when that thing blows its stack, it would burn our non-existent valuables to a cinder. And again, we live in an abandoned hammer mill. There’s plenty of room for Antimatter Lincoln’s imaginary possessions. The simple fact that they are imaginary – i.e., mental impressions only, not objects external to his fevered brain – suggests that he can have an infinite number of them and never have to worry about where to keep them all.

Fun!Right, so … what to do with that hole. We did bring Marvin (my personal robot assistant) up from the flames of hell this past week, after having lowered him down the well on an impromptu reconnaissance mission. He had little to report, though apparently he saw openings in the tunnel walls that led to large caverns underground. It’s possible that, for all his trouble, Mitch just built us a back door to Howe Caverns. I suppose NOW we’ll be getting busloads of middle school kids parked out in front of the mill, waiting for a chance to take the underground boat ride or step on the quartz heart-shaped platform where some crazy-ass couples chose to have their weddings.

Ah, memories. If you have a good use for the world’s biggest hole, just email them to us with the subject line: “World’s Biggest Hole”. We’ll know just what you’re talking about.

Cave in.

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Marvin, can you hear me? Marvin? Damn … that’s just the echo of my own voice. I was wondering why Marvin would be calling out to himself. Marvin!?

Right, so … I think we went a little too far with the archaeological dig, particularly once we got Mitch Macaphee, our mad science advisor, and Marvin (my personal robot assistant) involved. At first it was just a lark – we took a shovel to the floor of the Cheney Hammer Mill’s sub-basement just to see what we could find. Turns out there’s a lot of dirt down there. (Little known fact: the Earth is largely composed of dirt. I suspect that’s why “earth” is a synonym of “dirt”.) Sure, we turned up our share of lost quarters, belt buckles, tie clips and fossilized coelacanths, but that was about it.

Then Mitch decided to get involved, and of course, all hell broke loose. That is to say, he used one of his patented Particle Beam Generators™ to burn a hole through the Earth’s crust, clear down to the molten nickel core, which (as you know from watching television) is in a perpetual state of raging ferment – hell fire from beneath the ground, shall we say. To understand why this may have happened, you have to understand the scientific mind. Once you get that, imagine a diseased version of that same mind and you will have some insight into Mitch’s reasoning.

Say it twice!Well now, this didn’t go over very well, but I suggested to Mitch that his Particle Beam Generator™ had essentially blown the entire archaeological enterprise by incinerating every stratum between the mill floor and the Earth’s core; hence, a thousand potential discoveries may have been irretrievably lost. His answer was to devise a crane-like device and lower someone (not him!) down into the newly-bored hole to have a look at the top layers that had been exposed. How did we decide on Marvin? Well, there’s that ten bucks I owe him … and of course, he is much better qualified for the mission than I am. So sure, we put him in a harness and lowered him down into the hole, like he was on a fishing rod.

Anyone who has seen the movie Crack in the World can picture what comes next: A big flame comes out of the hole ten minutes after Marvin took the plunge. Radio silence thus far, but no worries: it’s Marvin’s nap time right about now, so he would tend to be unresponsive anyway.

Our four bears.

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Did you find any yet? Hmmm … I was sure they’d be here somewhere. How about now? Nothing? Okay. Keep digging. Great hopping organoids, this archaeology business is harder than it looks.

Idle hands do the devil’s work, or so they say. Here at the abandoned Cheney Hammer Mill (our squat house), we like to try to keep busy just so that we don’t get into trouble. Sure, you might think being a musician would be enough, and well, it should be. But you can play and play and play until the cows come home. Then what have you got? A whole herd of cows, and no place for them to graze. Who do those cows belong to, anyhow? Right … well, I’ve wandered a bit, but you get the point.

So sure, we make music, but in between all that we like to involve ourselves in scientific endeavors … at least in the social sciences. (We leave the hard sciences to our mad science advisor, Mitch Macaphee.) This week it’s archaeology. Why that field? Well, we spotted an article about Neanderthals or Denisovans finding their way to the Americas more than 100,000 years ago, and that piqued our interest. The evidence seemed a little thin: just some smashed Mastodon bones. So we thought we’d take a look in the dirt and see if we could find some helpful artifacts, buried far below the hammer mill.

Dude ... behind you. Take a look.The fact is, I’m pretty sure those scientists are right about the Neanderthals. Back when we used Trevor James Constable’s patented orgone generating device as a time travel portal, we sent ourselves back in time to a point in American history when large-jawed anthropoids made up the majority of our club audiences. They’re heavy tippers, I understand, but always call out songs you never heard of. And when you start playing, they knock rocks together until you’re all done. Charming.

If you’re wondering whether we’ve come across any remains, well, I hate to disappoint you, but the Neanderthals’ secret still remains safe. It’s basically choose your myth at this point. I choose the one where they follow some wayward bears over from Russia. Others have suggested a cable car of some sort. We may never know.

Audio dynamite.

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Yeah, turn the bass drum up a little in my headphone mix. Yeah, that’s enough. That’s good. Okay, dial it back … Too loud. STOP!! Christ on a bike. Can’t you turn a knob in a direction other than clockwise? No? Okay. Good to know.

As you may have surmised, we have resorted to using Marvin (my personal robot assistant) as a sound engineer in the makeshift studio we maintain at the abandoned Cheney Hammer Mill. Not the optimal choice, I admit, but hey, look – we only have two hands. Actually, between us, we have four, but – and this is important – WE’RE USING ALL FOUR OF THEM. I thought Marvin, being a robot, might be a bit more precise in his manipulations of various sound parameters, but it appears that Mitch Macaphee (our mad science advisor) cut a few corners when he put Marvin together. His wrist joints only turn one way, it turns out. What the fuck.

Hey, did any of you hear something?When you are effectively a pop duo … and I think Matt and I constitute the duo part, at least … you need to rely on others sometimes to do some of the heavy lifting. Marvin can do some stuff. I’ve gotten Antimatter Lincoln to shake a tambourine more than once – that’s about his speed. The man-sized tuber is pretty good at holding things up, like a table.  These are all things we would otherwise have to do ourselves, so it’s not like I’m ungrateful. But man … a shred of musical ability would come in handy right about now.

Then there’s such a thing as too much help. Yes, I’m talking about Mitch. This one song we were working on, we wanted a colossal bass drum sound. Mitch said he could do better than our superannuated effects boxes, so we said go ahead, knock yourself out. The next morning, I’m awakened by this earth-shattering BOOM and the whole mill is shaking like a jello mold. Out in the courtyard, there’s a smoking crater where the tool shed once stood. There were about seven mics set up around the crater. I guess Mitch was thinking surround sound.

It took about a year to live that down. (We still get calls from the codes department.) So hey, now I’m careful when I ask for help.