Love at First Sight, Live at Artslam!

A song about the hero, early in his leveling up, falling in love with the princess. Performed live at Artslam!

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Hurt, Live at Artslam!

Our cover of Hurt performed live at Artslam! with a cleaned up mix. The mix isn’t perfect but it certainly has a live sound to it! Perfection is boring, anyway.

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Killin’ Slimes, Live at Artslam!

Well, the live mix wasn’t so great, but we were able to get the multitrack at least and fix things up a bit. So if you missed Artslam! (you missed out!), or just wanna hear it again, here you go! Regardless of the not so great mix, we had a blast and seems like most everyone else did too!

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Cassette Culture

Hero Underground On Cassette

I didn’t understand it quite at first. In fact, I still don’t think I have it fully figured out. But cassettes are making a bit of a comeback these days. I call it the “poor man’s analog.” Cassettes are cheap to make, durable, and actually sound pretty damn good with a good deck. They are aiming for making music something more than just an under-appreciated modern commodity. I initially wrote them off as the next hipster thing. And that may be the case still, actually, but it won’t stop us from trying it anyway.

If you have been keeping up with our Facebook page, you know we have been playing around with the idea of doing some limited releases on cassette. Things like demos, live shows, practices, among other things. Some of that stuff we may release digitally, but some we may not, or at least do so in very limited capacity.

Why? A few reasons, but mostly we wanted something fun to give away at live shows that was more fun than just a download code or a CD. A CD is arguably more irrelevant than cassette because, as a digital format, it is superior perhaps to an MP3, but inferior to the high quality options we can provide via Bandcamp and other means. Most folks rip ‘em to MP3s and stow them away anyway.

A cassette? Well, it does have an obvious analog sound and, it, unlike a CD, is something you basically have to listen to from start to finish. Given that our next album is set to a story-driven landscape, that is something we really like. It is rather unique too, especially if we put limited release content on it, and is rather inexpensive to make.

Obviously, we want our fans to be able to listen to our music in as many ways as possible. Our future digital and vinyl release plans haven’t changed. We have simply added more avenues for content that our more devoted fans might appreciate as both a unique collectable and a different musical experience. If it is even remotely successful, we may start offering our official albums on tape too.

In fact, I noticed recently that our latest Chipsurf single, Space Hatchet (which we hope to release later this week), actually sounds better when bouncing out to chrome tape and back. As a result, we thought about creating a special edition of Chipsurf Pipeline on tape that includes that song. Tape-haters will still be able to grab Space Hatchet as a single in the usual places, though. If we think we can recoup at least some costs, we may look at professional duplication too, though for now, we’re are mostly doing these types of things “DIY style.”

Our next album, likewise, I hope to be able to record to reel-to-reel if we can make that at all possible. That means vinyl, and if we decide to, cassette, releases will be fully analog. I find that highly cool and also a bit ironic (given the lo-fi digital synths we use).

As a listener, I have been exploring the whole cassette culture thing and not only have I found some neat music, the culture has also been both friendly and rewarding. It is not for everyone but, hey, if you have a tape deck that still works, or can find one easily, it might be worth giving it a go.

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First Show Complete, Next Steps

Last Saturday we performed to an audience the first time ever! A huge thanks to 10bitWorks and everyone involved. A special shout-out to Nick who was up incredibly late working around a last minute issue for the chiptune workshop. The workshop was a fantastic success! Likewise, we feel pretty good about our show. We hoped folks enjoyed it as much as we did!

Missed our first show and feel sad? There will be more! In the meantime, we are trying to figure out the best way to put the recording up while keeping it a bit limited. We want people to come out to the shows, after-all! Listening at home is boring! The current plan is to throw the show up for download for an extremely limited time – maybe even less than a day. So fans that really want it can get it, but slackers will just have to wait or come out to a show!

Now that we have a show under our belts, it’s time for the next steps! We are planning on being at Classic Gaming Fest in Austin with TX Chip, although details for that haven’t quite been ironed out. In the interim, if anyone has suggestions on a place to play, let us know on our Facebook page!

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Hurt

In anticipation for our May 11th show, we decided to release another cover song! This one is a bit dark and somber but is perhaps our most powerful among our covers. If you want to hear this song, and others, including our originals, come see us on the 11th!

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Our Very First Show, May 11th @ 10BitWorks

Those of you who follow us on Facebook and Twitter no doubt already know this. Sorry for being so late to post this on our website! I really need to get better about that, but updating things in no less than three places can often be cumbersome. No excuse, but be that as it may, I am still happy to announce that we have our first booked show! It will be at 10BitWorks, aka San Antonio’s Hackerspace chapter and will be part of an intro to Arduino. The workshop will be how to build a very simple chip-synth using an ATtiny85 after which we will be giving a quick overview of the chip-synths we use and move on into our first live set ever! We hope to enlist the help of the audience and their newly built ATtiny85′s as well!

Doors open at 1pm and we expect to do our show at 4pm. The workshop is open to the public. We will also have our 7″, t-shirts, and stickers available should you wish to purchase any of those. Being that it is our first ever show, we may bring a few of our special colored records for sale as well!

If you’re on Facebook, you can let us know if you’re going via our Facebook event. Hope to see you there!

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Our First Cover Song Out

We spent some time thinking about it and we decided to go ahead and release one of the cover songs, Wish You Were Here. It will be one of the covers played at our first live shows. We thought it was a good compromise between keeping things secret while giving fans a taste of our new sound.

Instead of doing a studio version, we opted to release a recording directly off our live mixer during one of our practice sessions. That way it gives fans an idea of what our live shows will sound like. The song doesn’t encompass our entire new sound necessarily but it gives the general concepts. It’s also not perfect (Tim thinks he can do much better backing vocals for instance), but it really wasn’t meant to be.

We are getting very close to being able to start booking live shows. Our search for proper IEMs (In-Ear Monitors) continues but once we have those, we are essentially ready to go – at least for smaller shows. It’s been a ton of fun and we hope you will come out and see us!

Song Parts:
John: Lead Vox, Mandolin
Tim: Backing Vox, Acoustic Guitar, FM E. Piano, Starts LSDJ
GameBoy: DMG-001 Running LSDJ

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One more song to go!

We are not quite there yet, but are making really good progress on being able to perform live. We did finally pick up a mixer (an Allen & Heath MixWizard3 16:2 mk1), and have an RNC1773 in the mail to us. We may still need one or two more compressors, but most importantly still need IEM packs. We really want Shure P4HW’s (largely because it is a proven brand and has an audio limiter so we don’t end up blowing our eardrums out if someone drops a mic) but they are still surprisingly expensive. But once we have IEMs, we’ll basically be capable technically. There are definitely things that would be nice to have, such as a stage rack and things, but they won’t necessarily prevent us from being able to do a live show.

Creatively, we would like to finish composing at least one more original song. Once we do that, while we need some spit and polish, we will be good to go! Of course then the next step is trying to land gigs. We decided that we should have a good amount of polish for our press pack, so we may end up putting together some studio recordings for it. They will likely not be the final recordings we will put on the resulting album, but something that sounds professional enough to hopefully catch the ear of a venue owner.

We have probably another few months yet before we will be truly ready, but the progress made has been fantastic and, most importantly, we’ve been having fun every step of the way!

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The Quest for a Mixer

For the past few months now we have been working towards live shows. This remains our new goal around our next album, which will be somewhat of a departure from the first in a few respects (but will still be full of chiptune goodness). At this point, we have about half the songs done we want to use for our first shows. And we are now at the point where we want to start simulating a real live show during practice.

Turns out, it takes more than we anticipated to get things going, but one of the things holding us back the most is a mixer. Seems like every mixer we look at in the same price range is missing one important feature. So we have had to set our sights a bit higher in terms of needs. Currently, our favorite pick seems to be a used Allen and Health MixWizard 16:2. It’s got enough inputs, has on-board effects, but most importantly, has a healthy amount of SEND/AUX buses.

We plan on using in-ear monitors rather than floor wedges. In this way we can get custom mixes of what we want to hear without having to make it crazy loud or worry about feedback and all that. That requires more AUX buses which has been the major limiting factor in our mixer choice. Worry not, though, we’ll get there! We’re taking our time to make sure we get the best mixer we can for our needs. At this stage it’s an inconvenience but isn’t changing our timeline to being able to do shows by much, if anything.

We are still plugging away (hence the lack of regular blog posts, or so we’ll say) with hopes to be ready for shows this year. Not sure when this year, but we’ll be letting everyone know when that time does finally draw near whenever it is.

Also here’s to a Happy 2013! We made it, Mayans!

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