Tag Archives: guitar
While serving as a Creative Director at Hallmark I had several conversations with the in-house recording studio team about music. I also happened to mention my background in playing guitar with bands over the years. Little did I know that experience would come in handy. While sitting at my desk, the phone rang. On the other line was a recording engineer from the studio.
“Hey can you come upstairs for a minute?”
“Sure, what’s going on?”
“We want you to record something.”
When I arrived, he told me he was working a project for the books team. It was a sound book for boys and he wanted to record me playing the guitar.
I said, “Sure I’ll give it a shot. But I don’t have my gear here.”
“No worries. Just use this.”
He handed me a stock Fender Stratocaster.
I said, “do you have a pick?”
“Uh, no. Sorry.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. He then handed me a quarter. I’ve played using coins before. Dimes and nickels…but never while recording.
He plugged me directly into the Mac and said, “Just play like you’re finishing a big rock song.”
“Ok. How long?”
“Don’t go over three seconds because that’s how long the chip can play a sound file.”
“Three seconds? Are you serious?”
“Yeah, I’ll add the drums and crowd noise.”
I did three takes. On the third take, both the recording engineer and his supervisor, who was busy working on something else across the room, yelled, “STOP! That’s IT! That’s perfect!”
The whole session only lasted about 10 minutes. I walked out never knowing when or even if the book would see the light of day. Several months later I was in the mall and wandered into the Hallmark Gold Crown store. I veered over to the book area and there it was. I couldn’t believe it. I picked it up, and as I flipped through to find a rock music oriented page I wondered, “Did they really use it?”
Check it out (I made it loop because it’s my ringtone. ;-)):
[wpaudio url=”http://mattbinkowski.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/awesome_boy.mp3″ text=”Boy, You’re Awesome” dl=”0″]
Those who know me know that I grew up on 80’s metal. Mostly because that’s how I learned how to play the guitar…and partially because it was the coolest thing going (sorry, INXS / Depeche Mode / Whatever Other Pouty Band You Can Name Next). I thought I had heard of every 80’s metal band, but I had not heard of Anvil. Now that I’ve watched Anvil: The Story of Anvil, I understand why.
Anvil, founded in Canada in 1973 by Steve (Lips) Kudlow and Robb Reiner (no, not that* Rob Reiner), shot to fame in 1982 with their first, and most influential metal record, Metal On Metal. Cited by Metallica, Megadeth, Guns ‘n Roses and many other 80’s era metal gods as one of the original groups to forge the “Heavy Metal” template, Anvil rapidly faded into obscurity, thanks to the now-typical laundry list of music industry landmines: shitty management, horrid tour booking and awful follow-up record production. Take those three ingredients and repeat them for the next 20 years and you have Anvil.
The story doesn’t dwell on their fireball start in the industry but quickly humanizes every member by documenting their present-day worlds. Unfortunately for them, they are unable to make ends meet purely by their music, and we’re taken along for an intimate, sobering and sometimes lighthearted tour of their shitty jobs and broken dreams. Miraculously, the core of the band (Kudlow and Reiner) remained best friends and refused to stop rocking.
Luckily, after a terrible European “tour” that was booked by a rabid, incoherent female Czech fan, inspiration strikes Kudlow on the lips. He decides to send a demo CD of their latest tunes to the original producer of Metal On Metal. To their surprise, the producer gives it a go (with the appropriate amount of funding from the band, of course) and pulls the band together to complete their 13th studio record, aptly titled “This Is Thirteen.”
Anvil then tries to go the old-school route by sending out CDs to record labels for distribution deals. It takes a few rejections before they turn to the power of the Internet and social media to get the word out. Luckily things take off and they triumphantly return to Tokyo, Japan to play a festival, and they kill. And that, my friends, is just the beginning of Anvil’s new lease on life.
With a strangely compelling and charismatic band and blindly supportive yet weary and sympathetic family members, it’s hard to imagine how Director Sacha Gervasi couldn’t make you hope for Anvil to pull it out of the fire. With great editing, great pacing, and just enough drama without seeming like it’s from a reality tv show, it’s no wonder this film won so many awards.
Anvil: The Story of Anvil, is one hell of a story. Forget that it deals with an 80’s metal band. Or they’re from Canada (not that there’s anything wrong with that ;-)). Any sympathetic human being would find this film to be moving, uplifting and inspiring. Said person might even venture to iTunes and buy their music after hearing their latest stuff. Go see it and turn it up!
Final verdict: 4 out of 5 beers. I dare to say this is the all-around best rock music film ever made. Better than It Might Get Loud, better than Spinal Tap, and better than the U2: Rattle & Hum. I would have given it 5 out of 5 if it had an amazing live guitar solo moment, but it didn’t.
This blog, founded on June 1, 2004, is written and produced by Matt Binkowski.
Matt and baby Elise
1. I have been happily married for 14 years to my best friend, partner in crime, and all around love of my life.
2. My daughter Elise is perfectly cute, funny and smart as a whip. My baby boy Miles crashed the party on November 29, 2008.
3. I collect old Apple hardware:
– 1 Apple Pippin (Developer’s Edition)
– 1 Emate
– 2 Newtons (130 and 2100)
– 1 Interactive TV Prototype.
4. I started playing guitar when I was age 15.
5. My hollow-body aluminum strat was hand-built by a gifter luthier, Tom Murray.
6. I’ve driven a Wrangler over log piles, shale beaches, large boulders, through flooded trails, on the Rubicon Trail and the Chrysler Proving Grounds.
7. I like to think I’m a good painter and draftsman.
8. My dog lives on a 20 acre ranch in California and I miss him every day.
9. I lost my home, job, friends and savings thanks to the financial collapse in 2009 but somehow we were rescued and my family is okay.
10. I need to be challenged wherever I work.
11. If I’m watching a band is playing at a bar, I get nervous because I’ll feel like I’m up next.
12. My favorite color was blue and now it’s red.
13. I am an Eagle Scout and once won the Summer Camp-wide Archery competition.
14. I think Flash is the least usable application a designer has to deal with.
15. I used to live in California during the big internet boom and I miss that optimistic culture.
16. I rarely use my iPod Newton.
17. I love my iPod iPhone.
18. I find my Newton iPhone more useful than my iPod Newton.
19. I once fell from the roof of my Mom and Dad’s house and I didn’t get hurt.
20. I’ve never broken or sprained anything.
21. I once camped outside for 24 hours while it was 10 degrees below 0.
22. I once played in a band described by the Metro Times as “Detroit’s most offensive hardcore band.”
23. I took that as a compliment.
24. I loved playing in that band because our live shows were so crazy.
25. I painted three life-size oil portraits of my friends for my senior thesis in art school.
26. My college band performed a show in front of AC/DC’s lead singer and 800 high school kids. (it was so odd to see Brian Johnson just 30 feet away from me watching us play.)
27. There’s something comforting to me about a buddy list that makes me think I’m able to keep up with friends.
28. I take other people’s old Macintosh computers when they mention throwing them out because in some weird way it feels wrong.
29. I am determined to create my own OS X iPhone app.
30. I bought a Jeep so I could learn how to take it apart.
31. I hate being bored.
32. I have a good way of being calm in hairy situations.
33. I can’t cook anything except Crazy Pancakes.
34. Even those don’t turn out very well every time.
35. I wish Google Maps was able to send info to my Newton.
36. I’m somewhat addicted to the news, especially during election years.
37. I can’t watch CNN for very long before it stresses me out.
38. I once hiked over 100 miles in 1 week in New Mexico while carrying a backpack that weighed over 40 pounds.
39. I only drive the speed limit when I drive with my family.
40. I can draw Dora the Explorer.
41. I really can’t stand Dora the Explorer. I’m really learning to like Dora now that my daughter is so caught up in the Disney princesses who need to be married in order to “be complete.”
42. I can do all of the Winnie the Pooh voices.
43. I drink too much coffee and not enough water. Too personal? Maybe…
44. My first guitar teacher taught me Puff the Magic Dragon. Then I quit and learned how to play by listening to the radio.
45. The first record I ever bought was Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger.
46. The last record I ever bought was Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger.
47. My favorite movie is Better Off Dead.
48. I have a bad habit of rejecting bands the first time I hear them…and then reject them again a few months later…eventually listening to them religiously about a year down the road.
49. I’ve taken over 8,000 photos and 300 movie clips of my family.
50. I am amazed you made it all the way to the end of this list.
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