Update – May 03, 2010!!!

Hey just a quick check in after a loooooooooong few days, and weeks really. Things are flying at the moment, and things are changing too!! Has been an interesting, but rewarding time of late and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here!!

ALBUM #2 – While we lost 3 drum tracks from July last year, it didn’t hold us back at all, as we were able to revisit those tracks and make them even more killer than they were!! As it’s my Bro and I bashing them out it’s real quick and natural to do another take, so we didn’t find this a problem at all retaking 3 out of 4 songs, and I’m pleased to report that after some fantastic progress over the last few weeks, the 4 songs basically need a couple of solos, piano / keys, and vocals and they’re a done deal!!

Might be some vids popping up from these sessions during the week and I’ve just uploaded a few pics to all the sites.

THE FECKERS – The cat is now officially out of the bag that joining us on drums for The Feckers album is none other than Mr Dennis Leeflang who currently plays for Bumblefoot and Lita Ford, as well as running a fantastic studio out of New York where he’s now based.

If you haven’t heard of this guy, go right away to http://www.dennisleeflang.com/

As for the album itself, we’re 7 tracks or so into the drums, with various other bits for pretty much all the tracks including vocals and guitars. Coming along fantastically!!

I’m going to be engineering some guitar parts for the album now and doing a lot more of the behind the scenes hands on stuff which is going to be keeping me even more busy on this stuff.

We still have some guests to confirm, but the stuff is turning out killer!!! We’ll have a website that you can keep an eye on in the future!!

GROUPIE CHRIS!! – Got to meet a couple of musical heroes of mine recently – Marty Friedman (ex Megadeth) and Devin Townsend (solo, Strapping Young Lad).

 

Quite an inspiring time!!!

My thoughts on GONE WILD II (continued)

OK so following on from my initial review of GONE WILD II, disc 1 that you can read here.

GONE WILD II – DISC 2:

“Thunder and Lightning” – I think the story goes with this one that Rob had just shredded his heart out only to discover that his machine ended up eating the tracks on him, and left him wondering “great – what the hell do I do now”. Must have been some incredible stuff on those tracks!! I guess we’ll never know, but what we get on the finished track from the album is pretty damn impressive enough for me!!! If there are any ever GONE WILD live appearances they should totally do this song live!!

“I Caught You Out” – The title makes me think of “Howzat” for a moment, and though that may seem like a pisstake it isn’t!!! This tune is pretty cruisy rock, not too heavy, not too light. Some cool snarls in the vocal. One of those lyrics that any person (decent ones anyway) can relate to.

“Thicker” – The opening of the track reminds me of Melbourne convinience stores – where’d you record that sample guys? Haha. I think I read this was the first time our axe man ever used the drop D tuning (for the non musicians reading, this is where the lowest string of the guitar is lowered two notes, thus producing a much easier way to fret power chords, and also allowing the guitar to obviously play a little bit lower too which can inspire new things as far as composing goes). If I remember correctly too, this is MacGyver doing the much feared “high baller” on this song? Pretty cool stuff all round. Totally slamming heavy. A pretty new thing for the guys in GONE WILD.

“Is It Real” – I wish I wrote this song!! It’s a kinda loungey vibe throughout, and has that feeling of familiarity – like you’ve heard it before, even though you obviously haven’t. Could see this song working real well acoustically at a booze up, complete with yobbo background vocals and everything. Tasty saxophone stuff on this one too. I’m not the hugest phone of the sax usually, but find that when the guys team up with Robin, I’m always into it. Top stuff.

“Karma” – This one fades in with quite a bad arse bass / drums groove. Some sweet playing from Matt here, before the guitar introduces what will be the main hook of the song. When I played this for the first time it instantly grabbed me. Feels very Boston influenced, even down to some of the solos, which is a total credit in my book as they’re a great band. Again, this one should be done live if the guys ever go that way. Amazing song!!

“Doesn’t Really Matter” – Apparently I got some of this kinda stuff wrong with my Disc review, but I’m confident I hear MacGyver lead singing on this one along with Rob, and as usual their voices blend nicely. The main guitar riff of this song almost feels like signature Rob stuff now having heard a bit of it. Good solid rock on display here. Catchy melodies as usual.

“Rise Up” – (Wondering if the intro was recorded during one of the guys bourbon fests? Haha :P) The chorus to this song is a real pumper I gotta say. The song feels very familiar, but I can’t say it really sounds like any specific band…..except GONE WILD!!! That’s where it’s at!!

“The Way of the World” – When this track starts off, you can just tell it’s gonna be epic!! Great chord progression. Nice tasty fretless bass here, and the spoken intro really strikes a nerve I think. Chorus is KILLER!!!!! Great song, and touching on those subjects again that should be touched on a lot more than they are!!

“If Only I Could Find the Words” – This is one of those tracks that kinda makes it suprising that this is the same bunch of guys that also tore our faces off with “Thunder and Lightning” a while back. Totally cruisy funky blues rock that I could hear someone like Ben Harper doing. The piano on this one really adds to it as well. Just a good time all the way on this one musically.

“In the Year of the Blues” – I’d imagine the guys all enjoyed this one a lot being the blues fiends they are!! Loving it. How can you go wrong with the right bunch of guys and some blues!!!

“Where Would We Be” – Without the lyric sheet all I can say is this sounds like a pretty deep nod to a situation with a female companion of someones. Amazing chorus!! Wow!! This one actually I never realised just how cool it was because of all the songs!! Totally melodic and memorable which is 100% cool to me!! Haha some great samples in this one!!

“Bourbon Blues” – This was another track the guys were kind enough to have me play on for them, and I still remember hearing of the idea for the song from Rob – “was just an idea so I went with it” real modest like. I heard the song and went “SHIT – I love this!!” and I still do. Great fun to play to. All the guys did great with their bits. Honoured to be along for it!!

“21st Century Cool” – Not sure where the intro for this is from but I love it, and then the guitar that kicks in. Awesome!!! Sounds a bit like Brian May “Ressurrection” style there which is a compliment and then some!! You kind of expect it to be heavier after that than the main riff of the song that kicks in, which is a nice little twist, cause the obvious thing to do would be to crunch away as loud as possible. Totally catchy choruses here again. Rockin all the way!!

“Wild Boy” – Some cool production on those Breakfree voices coming into the track. This one proves a nice finale to the album – something not too heavy, not too light. Is like the guys want to leave you with their motto to remember them by before the disc finishes. Totally cool harmonies as usual.

Great stuff, and well done on a fantastic album lads!!! For more info, check out http://www.myspace.com/gonewildnz

“Pieces of Chris” – Interview for GONE WILD and Friends!!!

Chris with the Uke

Chris Szkup – Pieces Of Chris (Interview)

1. How does it feel to finally have “Pieces Of Eternity” completed ?

Chris:
FANTASTIC!!! Ya know, it honestly looked for a while there like it may not happen at all,
so to be sitting here reflecting on it’s completion is really something!!

2. You first mooted the title for this album years ago, did you stick
to the same set of songs all these years ?

Chris:
No, although there are a few songs that would have been on that earlier version.
Some of the stuff was written as late as 2007.

3. What made you decide to record a solo album as opposed to getting together
in a band situation ?

Chris:
Really just from being burned too many times I think. Eventually enough was going to be
enough, and although there’s definitely something special about being in a band and having
all guys on the same page and equally involved and into it, actually finding that situation
is quite a tricky thing as well.

Having said that, doing some of the earlier sessions for the album we’d lay down the bass
and drums with me singing / playing along, and some of the mateship from those sessions
really reminded me of the earlier days when we used to have a steady band going. Good times!!

4. What lead to you taking on the singing role ?

Chris:
Again, just relying on people, but being let down. I’m definitely not the most able
vocalist on the block, but at least I’m going to turn up!!

And also, because a lot of the lyrics are pretty personal stuff, who better to convey them than
me I figure.

5. Besides playing guitar and singing, what other instruments did you play on this album ?

Chris:
Let’s see….bass on “October 22” and “First Blood”, keys and piano on several tracks, and
some extra drum smacks on “Magical Occurence”.

6. Who would you describe as some of your main influences as a songwriter ?

Chris:
There are soooooooo many really, but in recent times, I suppose Glenn Hughes,
Bumblefoot, George Harrison, Megadeth, Cheap Trick and Queen.

7. You’ve previously been in the band Melodic Candy and Jigsore, did anyof those
experiences of being in those bands have an influence in the songs on “Pieces
Of Eternity” ?

Chris:
Not at all aside from me knowing right away that some of the stuff I was writing
wasn’t really gonna fit in as far as what Jigsore was doing at the time.

8. Your brother Matt plays on “Pieces Of Eternity”, it must be something pretty
cool to have a family member to bounce ideas off of, what did Matt bring to
the fold for this album ?

Chris:
What DIDN’T he bring? Haha. First and foremost, he’s the guy that is responsible
for it even existing. I’ll explain. Since moving from Tasmania in 2004, once in a
while I’d send him some stuff I had demoed. Just “check this out, wrote it the
other day” kinda stuff. There was one song he heard this way called “Innate
Self Destruct”, and he was right into it. Pretty much said that we have to get it
recorded, he knows the perfect place to do it, and he’ll even pay for it if I’m
short of a quid!!!!! What a guy!!!!!!!

So aside from being responsible for the whole thing starting at all, he also brings
enthusiasm (which is pretty much essential), great drumming, guitar playing and
singing, and not a bad set of co-producers ears either.

9. Did you have any other people contribute to the recording of the album ?

Chris:
Well aside from Stew Long who handled the controls for us at Red Planet,
we have Dale Brewer on bass for 7 of the 10 songs.

10. What is your expectation with regards “Pieces Of Eternity” ?

Chris:
No expectations really, other than hopefully some people our there somewhere
getting some enjoyment from it and hearing what fun we had making it.

11. Will you be shooting any video’s for this album ?

Chris:
It is definitely something that is on my mind, and we’ve spoken about this a little bit. I have
to check it out some more, but if all goes well there will be some videos in some shape or form
in the future.

12. Will you be getting a live unit together to play these songs in concert ?

Chris:
It isn’t something that’s planned at the moment unfortunately. Maybe that will change. Sure
would be fun.

13. Previously you had recorded with Jigsore, what happened there, why was an
album never officially released ?

Chris:
That was such a long time ago now, I’m not sure I really know the answer to that!! Haha.
I guess it just wasn’t meant to be – as cheesy as that may sound.

We definitely did some cool things though – cut our teeth playing live together, learned a lot
in the studio, and drank enough alcohol together for a couple of life times. Some fun stuff for
sure!!

14. Aside from your solo projects, have you played on any other albums ?

Chris:
As far as released stuff goes, my mates in GONE WILD from New Zealand were kind enough to have
me onboard for 3 songs on their latest album, and one song on their first, which is always a good fun experience.

Aside from that, there is an album from a chap from the USA called Rick Bone, who is donating the proceeds of his album to MS Research, being a sufferer of the disease himself. To be able to in any way at all contribute to something like that which is so important is definitely a cool thing for a postman from down under I can tell you!!

15. What’s the biggest buzz out of playing on other people’s albums ?

Chris:
Just everything about it. Hopefully at the end of the process you read that your parts added to the song and the person is happy, which is what it’s really all about – making music together and being happy, so I guess that’s the biggest thrill for me!!

16. Do you plan on doing more writing/guest apperances on other peoples albums in the future ?

Chris:
Sure if things come up and I’m available. I pretty much take things as they come, but wouldn’t rule anything out!!

17. It’s now been well documented that you have a side-project on the go – along with writing and recording your 2nd solo album, how easy is it for you to keep The Feckers and Chris Szkup seperated musically ?

Chris:
I don’t really think about it a whole heap to be honest with you. It’s a matter of just doing what you do. With The Feckers, it seems like we’ll definitely be going to some places musically that my album doesn’t, but it wasn’t really a concious decision on my part. Maybe the lyrics Richard sends me can inspire some different ways of thinking in regards to the music, but in general, I have so much music in my head, that I can spread them nicely between the two monkiers and make it seem like some grand plan when in reality it isn’t haha!

18. Who designed the “Pieces Of Eternity” artwork ? It looks great and conjurs up all sorts of
visuals, without being anything too over the top or cheesy!

Chris:
Yeah how cool is that artwork!!! Mr Dan Verkys, who is also from Melbourne. He was a total breeze to work with. Everyone should check out his stuff at: http://www.gardenofbadthings.com/

19. Will you have him do any design work for you in the future ?

Chris:
If he’s available I’d definitely want to keep things rolling there. I couldn’t imagine going to anyone else at the moment!!

20. Lastly, for those that aren’t too sure on how to pronounce your surname, could you
ellaborate on what might be the best way to say it correctly ?

Chris:
HAHAHA!!!! I’m always misunderstood, so even if I were to type it out in this reply, it more than likely isn’t going to come across the right way! Maybe I can make a video down the track haha.

Update – August 29, 2009!!!

PIECES OF ETERNITY:

So hopefully by now, everyone has seen the cover and heard the sample from “Pieces of Eternity”?? (If you don’t know what I’m on about, go to http://www.cs-songs.com/powerfulostrichearache)I’m so happy that it’s nearly a done deal, and can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks about it.

The latest there is that I’ve OK’ed a digital proof of the album artwork with the manufacturers, and pending everything going smoothly on their end, it’ll be a done deal in the first half of September!!!

Been working on the online store here, so everything will be ready to go in time for the CD’s coming back from print. Also will be doing some promo stuff for the release – interviews, radio etc. Very excited for all that!!!

Keep an eye on my associated sites over the next day or so for a full length track!! ;)

THE FECKERS:

For those who may not be aware of it, for years I’ve written songs with folks in other countries through the wonders of modern technology, and even had the pleasure of a few guest guitar cameos too. One of these collaborations is with a mate by the name of Richard “MacGyver” Anderson, and even though we never really had the money to complete a lot of our ideas so far, we never really stopped collaborating on stuff.

For a while we were really trying to bring the songs to life, but it seemed like the gods were against that happening, which lead to us shelving the idea for a while, and he went and formed a cool little band called GONE WILD, while I was finally getting some of my own stuff together.

Now that we’ve both had some progress on our own sides of the pond, we decided it was time again to team up and hopefully tend to some of those now many songs. This was penciled in to start in July 09, looked shaky for a little bit, but ended up happening and then some.

We’ve made some fantastic progress on 3 songs, which are hard rock / metal, and on those tracks basically all the drums, bass and rhythm guitar is DONE!! Speaking of drums too, we have the most unbelievable skinsman helping us out on this stuff – more on that soon.

Basically everything is going amazingly well, and while this has all been going on, we’ve been recruiting other guest singers and players, and the list is a real impressive one! And we’re not even done yet!

I’m back in the studio next week doing lead and acoustic guitars, and possibly even getting some vocals added to one of the tracks, so stay tuned!!

MORE SOLO:

Started work on what will be my 2nd album in July also!! Once again with my bro Mathew Szkup on drums, and the incredible Stew Long running the controls once again. We’re four songs into the drum tracks, although Stew’s hectic schedule of late hasn’t allowed any more progress to be made on the songs thus far.

Again it will be a mixture of stuff – of these 4 songs, there’s a funk / rock / metal thing, a Harrison esque chord strummer, a piano based rock ballad, and a 10 minute epic kinda thing that to quite Stew “covers most countries on earth” in the moods it creates. Starts off thrash metal and ends up as a waltz!!

Will post more on this stuff as we chip away at it in conjunction with The Feckers stuff.

LIVE APPEARANCES:

While I can’t say too much at the time of writing, it looks like I’ll be getting back onto the stage in 2009, not only in Melbourne, but also interstate!!! Stay tuned!!!

AND IF THAT WASN’T ENOUGH:

Just have to say a big THANK YOU to Ron Thal, and Peter Hodgson for their nice words in this Bumblefoot Interview!!!

To say I’m honoured is an understatement!!!

Check out http://www.bumblefoot.com/ for more Bumblefoot, and also Peter’s awesome guitar blog titled I Heart Guitar, at http://www.iheartguitarblog.com/ !!!