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PRF010 Teeth "The Strain" - Available! #rockvscancerrockwins

Postby Mister Grabski on Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:07 pm

Long-winded read. So maybe skip this if you can't stand long posts.

I'm assuming that aside from the forum regulars here who are fans of EA and members of bands that have recorded at EA, there are also some employees that post here, interns and such. I guess I'd just like to give everyone a hello before I arrive @ EA Nov 17 for a few days of recording/tracking etc. with Steve. So yeah, hello. :)

This is only happening because of a friendly interaction with Steve via email (and a resulting phone call) after I had account activation at this forum; I had emailed EA asking for help as was interested in at least getting more information on costs for either my band or myself to get an album recorded. I'm mostly a drummer (at least over the last few years) and my band Cheebahawk has enjoyed playing some kickass shows with the likes of Midnight Ghost Train, The Flying Eyes and Weedeater. But the sludge/doom thing isn't what I do when I'm on my own. I make simple hard rock with a touch of weird; and I've done a lot of home recording over the years using a lot of low-fi DIY ethic.

I feel a lot different from many of my fellow musicians at shows, as well as the lot of you here. I didn't go to school for music. I didn't attend assloads of shows, or get hooked up with a scene. I was however an always-evolving music fan and for many years I was only an occasional musician, usually in small towns. I had kids early in adulthood and resigned to become a worker ant; feeling almost sure that if anything my love for playing music was going to be relegated to a hobby. In the back of my head I kept my skill growth and mental approach, I knew somehow that I would need to call upon rock & roll musicianship someday. My family separated in '05 though and my role as a father became really limited in a way that I never had much control over, depressingly so. But I used my newfound extra time to do things like convert my bedroom into a recording studio and record an album's worth of material. I did it for me; I didn't expect to be signed, I wasn't looking to start a band, no, I just wanted to make some rock music.

Then I got sick. Turns out it was testicular cancer. But the biopsy showed weird stuff and I had a 9 lb tumor in my abdomen. The surgery just about killed me, and I had tons of chemotherapy which was all hail-marys as not even the best minds in cancer knew how to treat what was some undocumented presentations of several types of cancer that had evolved from the original testicular cancer I had. Then more cancer was found in my chest. This was cancer type number 5, and was even rarer and harder to treat. More surgeries, more chemo, and some radiation. I almost died many times. But in November of 2008 I was in remission, and we all thought I was in the clear.

So I started working again (Creative Director at a software company and then landscaping... I needed to leave the office and get outside!), I spent a lot of time with my family, and I converted my attic into another low-fi recording studio. I never got myself to 100% physically speaking, not quite; but I tried my arse off. I never psychologically recovered from all of that stuff either, and I was thrown for a hell of a loop in spring '10 when I was told that I had a mass on my lung. The resulting major surgery ended up being unnecessary, all it was was scar tissue. But by then I had helped form Cheebahawk, and I recovered quickly and we started gigging in December of last year. We worked hard, scored some fun gigs including a great show @ Fontana's in NYC, and we kept developing newer and more complex material. So life without cancer was getting better. I even got some help from a shrink to help me better deal with all that had happened to me and my family due to my disease(s).

Then I had a scan this summer and we found out it was back. Biopsy showed that the 5th type of cancer had returned, and I had some scans that were supposed to show the surgeon an easy route to removing two small tumors, one on the front side and one on the backside of my lung. But that's not what happened. They found several other tumors and took them out, but could not totally remove the one on my heart... and the backside of my lung tumor had grown to the size of a nerf football, and has started to kinda merge with my lung which is a bad, bad thing. They can't take it out.

My body can't take any more chemo. Only certain areas of my body can stand radiation as I did get blasted in a few different areas over the years, and as I said earlier that big tumor can't be removed as it's too involved with other tissue and it's in a bad spot. Also it's clear to me and my longtime surgeon that it's likely that if I have another surgery, i'll likely shut down and pass away on the table. I have sooo much scar tissue, and I'm in a lot of pain a lot of the time. So what I'm doing now is radiation. Basically "comfort care" radiation, to try and shrink stuff so that I can be comfortable for as long as possible, especially that big tumor... when it grows back, or just continues to grow, nothing can be done about it, and it will likely be what claims me.

So after years of fighting it finally has a grip on me. I've had the best doctors in the country as well as some major cancer panels (consortiums of the best minds in the biz) looking over me, and honestly I wasn't supposed to last this long. I'm facing reality head-on, with realism, with a sense of humor, and with love for life, love for those I love, and love for rock & roll.

So I'm kinda in bucket list mode. And one thing I wanted to get done was an album, regardless of my skill as a musician. So Steve telling me on the phone that he'd like me to come down for a few days and get this done - it's a dream come true. It'll only be a five or six track album, and it won't light the world on fire, but I'm going to distribute it and promote it somehow, and will make sure a large percentage of revenues go toward cancer research.

I have financial backing from my family as well as from an online fundraiser that was started yesterday...

Link: http://www.microgiving.com/profile/ragejg

... and my brother who is a much more educated and accomplished musician is coming with me on this road trip from NY to Chicago; and he may rent a high-quality camera and do a bit of documentary-ish filming... he's also going to help with some bass and maybe some lead guitar duties.

And I just got word that Jason Bonham wants to help me in some fashion. Sheesh!

In my darkest days, in the twilight of my life I'm finding love and support in the most unlikely of places. I'm only 33, I feel like I have a lot of life to live, and I want to do this not just for me but also to show my kids that anything is possible especially if you approach things from a different angle than most others do.

So my brother and I will be showing up on the 17th, ready to go, with some cool equipment and some ideas that I have crafted. I'm looking forward to working with Steve and the whole crew at EA. I've never been in this sort of recording environment, and again I'm not technically versed with regards to gear and song construction, but I know what I'm about to make, and I'll be proud of it.

I've been asked a million questions about alternative treatments; those things are not options for people in my position. The reality is that my time is limited, my number has been called. But I gotta get this done first, and I want to have a great time doing so. I hope to have the support of this community as well as the folks at EA (Steve and Steve have been great), and I'm looking forward to moving from tracking/recording/mastering to distribution/promotion and people's enjoyment of my creating soon thereafter.

Oh and what kind of tunes will this solo album with no name (yet) contain? Well, I think right now it'd be best if I'd just say these will be simple and enjoyable rock songs with caustic guitars, sparse vocals and some mean and simple drums. I mean, although I really love 1969-74 King Crimson, Lightning Bolt and Don Caballero, I get the biggest high off of Josh Homme's weirdest stuff, a lot of Steve's work with Shellac, Gay Witch Abortion and The Melvins. ... But I'm quite certain that what ends up being recorded will pale in comparison to even the shadows of all of that stuff. But hey, I'll have fun, and hopefully Steve will too.
Last edited by Mister Grabski on Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:29 am, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby Bill Flaig on Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:23 pm

That's really intense man. Best of luck to you and I can't wait to hear it.
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby sleepkid on Sun Oct 16, 2011 11:16 pm

Sorry to hear this. A few forum members have passed away, and one or two others are dealing with cancer or other serious health problems. It's always sobering.

I'm glad to hear you're facing this with your chin up. I wish you the best of luck, both with it, and your upcoming recording date at Electrical. I look forward to hearing it.

As for distributing it, Bandcamp is a big winner here, as it allows for easy digital distribution and sale as well as the ability to sell physical product (such as CDs and vinyl). If you decide to have it pressed on vinyl, for limited runs I can recommend Palomino record pressing (sometimes called Dosado) for the records and Imprint printing for the jackets. That's who we're using for the PRF singles club records, and so far they've been winners. Some people here also recommend Ace record pressing and Gottagroove.

If you have any questions along those lines, I'll be happy to share what I know. There are also several more knowledgeable people on this forum, so if you post your questions, you're likely to get a lot of responses.
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby etch on Sun Oct 16, 2011 11:26 pm

Recording at EA is a wonderful experience and I wish you and your family the best.

Have a beautiful time, man.
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby seanurban on Sun Oct 16, 2011 11:31 pm

why can't we all be like this guy? get a disease and say fuck it, this is my time.
hang in there!
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby BadComrade on Sun Oct 16, 2011 11:55 pm

I would like to propose (to those in charge) that in honor of this great thing John is doing for himself and the people he knows, one of the songs he records at Electrical wind up on a future PRF Records compilation, via the PRF Make a Fucking Wish Foundation. It would be great to have it woven right into one of the forum's various artists quarterly LP releases.

Thanks for joining the forum and telling us about yourself. It's cool to know what's going on at Electrical, and it'll be cool to hear what you've decided to commit to tape, knowing what we now know about you. It'll be all PRF Behind the Music and shit.
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby Dave//Eksvplot on Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:05 am

Good idea, Mr. Hall.

Have fun bashing out your songs, John!

I agree with Sleepkid that a bandcamp page is a good way to get your music out there so that people can hear it instantly.

Best of luck with everything.

Salut!
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby John Houlihan on Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:09 am

That's a fantastic idea, BadComrade.

I've recorded there twice and it was a great experience. Everyone couldn't be any more awesome if they tried. Nicest people on earth.

Don't be nervous. It's a very relaxed atmosphere. Steve is high as a kite the entire time, so it'll be cool.


I'm in Queens if you need anything. PM me.
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby Redheadache on Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:22 am

I am so sorry you've had such a hard time. It's hard to think of what to say but I'm very sad for you and hope that while you're going through this process you have close friends and family around you. I can tell you've got a really positive attitude and I hope you have a wonderful time recording at EA. It is an amazing and humbling place to record (and they also have awesome cats). Pepper! and I would love to have you and whomever else wants to join us either over for dinner or out at a restaurant of your choosing on Wednesday night. Let us know if you'd like to hang out and if other people want to join us please chime in!

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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby Redheadache on Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:24 am

Also, Chris, great idea. Let's make this happen as soon as possible people.
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby OrthodoxEaster on Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:11 am

As someone who (many, many years ago) was simultaneously playing in bands and dealing w/some fairly serious health issues (though barely approaching what you have to contend w/), my heart goes out to you, man.

Ok, I'll try not to make this sound trite and/or disjointed:

You've got an incredible-sounding project up your sleeve. It's gonna be a major thrill to focus on recording/mixing/mastering/LP production instead of devoting all your mental and physical space to survival/doctors/chemo/insurance billing departments/etc. Seriously. Some people would turn to drugs, self-pity, therapy, Jesus, whatever keeps them sane. But you've chosen to do something constructive in the middle of this: you're trying to create this enduring document of your music. And frankly, I think that's both brave and beautiful. Huge kudos to you, hope the finished project is ridiculously fulfilling and totally blows your mind.
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby emmanuelle cunt on Mon Oct 17, 2011 6:39 am

All I can is that I wish you best of luck, and thanks so much for sharing this. It totally made me feel that I should reconsider some things be doing more stuff with my life while I have nothing really major to worry about. Best wishes.
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby Mister Grabski on Mon Oct 17, 2011 7:18 am

Holy dog balls. I didn't know what to expect when I posted this, and wow, I really, really appreciate the positivity.

Regarding said compilation, yeah if one of my songs is good enough, that would be cool. :)

I really didn't know how I'd react when finally given news that "hey, it's got you this time, get your affairs in order, your time is nigh" ... but I'm glad that one of the first things that came to mind was "shit, I've gotta get an album done; I need to try to get ahold of Steve"... and I'm even more glad that I stepped forward and did what I could to make it happen.

I guess maybe I'll share some material that I've been involved in now, starting with my work in Cheebahawk, as I've been more focused on drums in the last year than anything else:

Live footage:




Practice-space demo stuff:

My favorite, a 15-min instrumental:



As for my stuff, as I've said it's quite different... and I believe what's being put together for this album represents... well it all stems from this older material, but I think the ideas are developed further and are more cohesive. I'd say what I'm making sits somewhere between the Melvins-y dirge of this (early 2011, features two drum tracks):



... and the hyper-simplicity of this (2006), which features vocals:



... There's more along the lines of that last one at http://www.myspace.com/lowfiemphatic (I'd recommend "in the sea", a sarcastic jab at the songwriting process when in a band) ... along with some fun shit I did in '09 using my daughter's small-scale drum kit. Most of that stuff was just me, a TKO drum kit with god-awful cymbals, a wrecked Johnson Strat copy, an Alvarez bass, a Carvin CM67 and a couple Shure PG mics, a marshall mini-stack pocket amp, multimedia speakers to occasionally run the amp's sound through, a dresser drawer for reverb, stood-up mattresses to separate sound, and a Tascam Porta 02... and plenty of Steel Reserve. :p

Hope that material doesn't cause too many wrinkled noses.
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby zom-zom on Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:22 am

Hey man that's a hell of a story and a really tough row to hoe.. keep up with the positivity though. I share a practice space with Gay Witch Abortion.. they're really great guys and I worked in the kitchen with Jesse close to 20 years ago. I might seem them later today..

Anyone at anytime can be dealt these sort of things.. it's great to see you having this sort of attitude towards the inevitable. When are you going to be in the studio?
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby motorbike guy on Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:34 am

zom-zom wrote: When are you going to be in the studio?


Zom, he said it above, 11/17 - which also happens to be my birthday.

dude - rehearse the songs until they are tight, go in there and kill it. have fun. recording in a nice studio is one of the most fun things. good luck. I hope a cut makes it onto the PRF singles club.
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby whoisalhedges on Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:43 am

Wow.

I hate calling people/stories "inspirational," but there you are. So many people (maybe me, you never know till you've been there) would just give up and wallow in self-pity. You're standing up, saying "FUCK CANCER" and doing what you want to do. Awesome.

All my best to you, however much time you have left, and I sincerely look forward to hearing the fruits of your labor at Electrical. Rock the fuck on.
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby AlBStern on Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:08 am

I am so excited you to get to do this. EA is totally going to take care of you. Make sure to rub Greg Norman's beard for good luck.
Last edited by AlBStern on Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby Mister Grabski on Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:14 am

lol, I have a pretty mean facial hair growth/monstrosity as well.
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby Justin Foley on Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:25 am

Thanks for posting this. It's obvious that you have come to this place as part of a tremendous struggle and it's incredibly generous of you to share this with the forum. I hope the recording is as rewarding for you as it should be.

= Justin
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Re: Unlikely dream come true - regarding rock & roll and can

Postby goosman on Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:32 am

Yeah, what Justin said.

I like the videos you posted above and also look forward to hearing what you do at EA.
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