Thursday, December 4, 2008
Okay, that's sort of a lie right there. I actually liked Appetite for Destruction for what it was (a solid "rock" album) and don't get me wrong they have had their moments. I really enjoyed the track "The Garden" from one of the "Use Your Illusions" albums. I guess what I'm saying here folks is... The new Guns n' Roses is different than normal Guns n' Roses and I think that is a good thing.
First of all I have to be honest 2008 has not been a stellar year for music in terms of releases. If you held a gun to my head (and please don't) I'm not entirely sure that I could come up with 10 great releases from this year. Metallica released a great album and I really enjoyed the new Alice Cooper disc. That Planet Gemini album released this year was something special and I really do enjoy the Lord Vicar stuff I've been listening to...but, other than that I can't really say that there is anything that has blown me away.
Enter Chinese Democracy: with 14 years against him and millions and millions of dollars spent on studio time Axl has finally pruned and proded this album to it's conceptual release and in my opinion the final product is good. Over-produced but, good.
First of all forget what you know about GnR as this album sounds very little like the older GnR stuff which for me was a nice change. I really enjoyed the techno industrial drums that Axl used on a lot of these songs they added a nice bit of variety so a lot of these tracks. Songs like "If the World" just groove so much more due to the "Reznor-ish" sampled drum licks with a nice thumping bassline behind them. Also noted is the rooting of the guitar solos on this album. Some of the stuff that Bumblefoot or Buckethead or whoever-the-fuck is playing for Axl on each track (which differs I believe) is nothing short of amazing. The harmonies are nice and they add that "off the wall" element that roots this music into the hard rock catagory. There is definitely an heir of "Slash can't do this" thrown in there when you hear those A harmonic minor rakes coming through on the first song. Well done and I love the little backhanded slap that is put out there.
I think that Axl's voice is going to be a big topic of discussion. Now, I know that he is... well.. Axl and that he's always kind of sounded like that but, I find that there are tracks where his voice just sounds outright obtrucive. The above mentioned track "If the World" is a great example of that. The music is more groovin' and layed back and he is screaming in this whiney falsetto and it almost floats over the music instead of blending in with it. But, on the other hand. I don't know if I could imagine it any other way.
There are some standout tracks. I really enjoy the first 2 tracks and Axl really puts an emphasis on his low voice in these tracks. In "Chinese Democracy" (the song) he even has this tone on the chorus vocals that sounds completely different. But, mostly this album is not going to blow you away vocally.
I think that lyrically is where this album shines. Axl has a lot of pent up aggression and a bit of the broken hearted, jilted lover type lyrics that he is putting out there. Along with some very pretty piano playing on certain songs and some very well place moments of rebellion this album is vocally a tour de force. As with every ebb there is a flow I must admit that there are some tracks (like "Sorry") where there could be a bit more wordsmithing involved. I think whenever you use the term "I'll kick your ass" in a song that is a good sign that you're either A) in a punk band, or B) strapped for lyrics.
Out of the 14 songs on this album I would say that 7-9 of them are very solid and they are getting better with each listen. My stand out tracks are...
Chinese Democracy, Shackler's Revenge, Better, If the World, Riad n The Bedouins, Sorry and This I Love. (with Sorry probably being my favorite of the bunch).
This is Axl's album. I'm quite surprised that it got released and I definitely didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I have. I must admit that I didn't enjoy Slash's offerings very much so I guess that means that I'm taking Axl's side in the big GnR split. I hope the album does well. It needs it to actually recoup from the INSANE production costs of this thing. With all that being said there is something to be said about this guy toiling over this album for 10+ years and finally thinking it is good enough to release. I think some of the songs suffered for it don't get me wrong. There is a lot of tracks that just don't end when they should. They linger on (Like this review) but all in all this album is solid in my book.
7.5 out of 10 (Very listenable)
Thanks for reading
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I will say though that a Planet Gemini release IS indeed in the works and should be done around late 2008/early 2009. Until then please stay tuned here (any my myspace page) to hear the latest on Planet Gemini's releases.
I will probably be putting "The Man Who Burnt the Sun" and "Locked in a Paper Cage" up for download for the visitors of this webpage soon enough.
If I don't update have a very happy and safe Halloween/Samhain and keep checking in for updates
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Recent Interview (Talk about Wicked, The state of Heavy Metal, Influences, Scary Devil Music and more…)
(Interview curousy of Earthdog's blog. To be posted on stonerrock.com, hellridemusic.com..etc)
Having formed in 1997 the work of H and Planet Gemini has produced some of the most interesting Metal around. Planet Gemini has managed to walk the same path as Sabbath, Cathedral and Trouble while remaining totally unique in the world of Doom. The latest recording "Wicked" is one of the freshest sounding releases of the last year so i contacted H and he agreed to a interview. Here is the interview, unedited.
ED: First of all i must say your recordings are all very impressive with the lastest "Wicked" being my favorite so far. How has the recordings progressed over the years? What has been the most rewarding progression for you?
H: Well, I would have to say the biggest change is doing everything myself. Before when my friend Josh (former bass player) was in the band it was much easier to just jam on a riff and make it into a song. Now it takes a little more planning. I still do try to keep it as free flowing as possible but I find that the music is a lot more focused, and I'd like to think that it is quite noticeable. Another big change is my skill level. I learned to play drums for Planet Gemini because we couldn't find a full time drummer, and now I find myself becoming a full time drummer. I practice a lot more than the average musician. I actually practice all of my instruments like a maniac. It's my unhealthy obsession really, but I think that it pays off in the music. Wicked is a great example of that. I completely went into a different state of mind while recording that album. Very dark and very angry, and while I don't consider all of the album to be a lashing out of rage. I do feel that the album has a fair amount of vitriol to it.
ED: It's hard to pinpoint a specific term to describe your style of metal but Doom Metal seems to describe it the best to me. Is this accurate to you?
H: I always tend to call my music "Doom" because that's really the feeling and emotion I like to go for when I write music. I know a lot of the "tr00 Doom" zealots tend to disagree but I think that they take themselves a little too seriously sometimes. One of the things that I think sets Planet Gemini apart from a lot of other bands is that I can tap into any genre I want and it would still be Planet Gemini. Whether that be Planet Gemini playing a more "Swing" based up tempo track like "Burning Laughter" or even a quieter more acoustic piece like "Eden" off of my last album Wicked. When you start becoming a slave to your genre it pretty much guarantees that you will never do anything new and creative. So I guess in the end you can call me Doom or Heavy Metal… I've even been called NWOBH. To be honest it's just a label. But to get back to your question: I say if you think the band's "Trouble" or "Candlemass" are Doom bands then I can't see how you couldn't view Planet Gemini as Doom as well.
ED: What is your honest opinion on the current Metal scene as a whole?
H: That's a pretty broad question there. I view a lot of the current metal scene to be the equivalent of someone yelling down a dark empty cave. The echo seems to go on forever but the sound quality degrades with every instance of the echo. There are a lot of genres out there where I can't for the life of me tell the difference between some of these bands. No guitar riffs, drumming as fast as they can with very little control and vocals where I can't hear a thing they are trying to say. Then, by some act of morbid curiosity I check out their lyrics and I see why they are so incoherent. They have nothing to say in their music it only makes sense because if they did why would they make their message so muddled and unintelligible? Sadly that about covers 80-90% of the modern acts out there today. It's so paint-by-numbers and uninspiring that I just can't really get into a lot of metal acts anymore. I mean on a more positive note there are still some great bands that are putting out some good albums, but for the most part they are all bands that are quite a few albums in.
ED: I like the fact you offer recordings for free over the internet, what is your reasons for doing this?
H: I started off in a conventional band. We played for about 5 years doing shows at bars and clubs and sadly at the time my "local scene" was dying due to the influx of DJ's in nightclubs and bars were turning towards Karaoke. Live acts were really dwindling and it got to a point where my band was doing more cover songs than originals because that's all people wanted to hear. I think it got to a point where I was playing a motorcycle rally and I'm performing this half-hearted version of "born to be wild" and I looked over at my angry band-mates and thought to myself "This is absolute bullshit". We kind of became known as a "Sabbath" cover band. We did a ton of Sabbath stuff live and it was really the only thing that was getting people somewhat interested in our originals. To me it was quite clear that playing bars and clubs was not the way for me to get my music out there.
I've always been a tech savvy person and I knew how powerful the internet was/is. Josh and I ended up buying some cheap PC recording equipment to see how easy it would be to record ourselves a demo. We did about 5 songs and I sent a couple to some people I had been chatting with at the time and they were all quite positive about it. So I built a small webpage on one of those banner laden free webhosting sites and it just took off really well. From there I had a dream of building us a recording studio one night. I woke up at 5am and called Josh and he was like "Let's fucking do it". So we did. We spent a ridiculous amount of money getting a professional studio together. We were completely clueless as to what we were doing. I knew a little bit about recording with an 8 track Tascam but had no idea how confusing recording digitally could be. I ended up buying a program called Cakewalk 7 and the rest just escaladed from there.
So now we have this professional studio and a lot of people e-mailing us about our music… Hell, at this point I didn't even want to press any CDs. I Just wanted to give my stuff away. I loved the fact that it really felt like people were not just interested in the music but the project behind making the music. So I tried to give people an inside look at what the band was doing. I would put up early demos, lyrics, song ideas, song titles. I just wanted to make people feel like they were part of the project as much as possible. In my opinion that's where it really paid off. People started taking a special interest in the band and started spreading the word and copying our music for their friends. We ended pressing CD's later on because Dan (The owner of Stonerrock. com) really made a compelling argument to me that I was alienating a big portion of my audience by making my music download only. So we went down that route but in the long run I really liked the idea that someone could just get the music and enjoy it. Not worry about money. Just give me your time and attention, that's pretty much all I could ask for. It got to a point where people were sending me e-mails saying they listen to Planet Gemini everyday and to me… that's worth more than money. I've always said "I'd rather have people singing my songs than buying my cds" and I can honestly say without hesitation that statement rings just as true today as it did back then. Today I see people getting Planet Gemini tattoos and I hear from people who are quoting my lyrics as words that they use to inspire them. I have people write me telling me how influential I have been in being an artist who does everything themselves, and, well, I've been blessed with this magic I call Planet Gemini. I've worked with Jeff "Oly" Olson (Founding member of Trouble) I've collaborated ideas with Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath/Dio drummer) I've worked with some of my heroes and I'm just a normal fan who loves music. So for me to be respected among some of these musicians I grew up idolizing is just amazing.
The music industry is now learning that the internet is really the way to distribute music. You're seeing more acts now leave their labels and just make their album on Pro-Tools and put it on i-tunes themselves. The age of being a slave to a record label is really starting to fall behind us. Leave that bullshit to the pop music acts. In metal we shouldn't have a flavor of the month. Our music is made to be indelibly etched into our listeners psyche. I'm 32 years old and I've been listening to metal for like 75% of my life. You don't see that in pop music. They tend to deny even liking the garbage that they listen to. You won't find a guy out there admitting to buying a New Kids on the Block tape back in the day. But they sold a millions and millions of albums and that couldn't be all from teeny bopper girls. All of those top40 sheep out there are so embarrassed at the fashions they follow that they won't even admit to it most of the time. While I personally can put on any album I bought when I was 12 years old whether it be Black Sabbath, Manowar, Deep Purple, Riot, Helloween or Judas Priest and still hear the greatness that I heard in that music. That is why I feel metal is stronger than other genres. It's eternal in my opinion and I'm proud to be a part no matter how small of a part I am.
ED: I know from reading your blogs you are a fan of the older heavy bands like Purple and Priest. Are these bands a inspiration for you?
H: Without a doubt. They made me who I am. If it wasn't for Black Sabbath I wouldn't be half of the person I am today. I actually can't imagine where my life would be without them. They gave me a passion for music that I can't even begin to explain. I learned to play guitar by watching the 1978 concert Never Say Die on videotape. I would play that show over and over and over again. I never took a guitar lesson. I would pause the tape to see where Iommi's fingers were to play the songs perfectly. My parents had to have wanted to strangle me, or destroy that tape. Because I would come home and play to that tape four or five times through a day. I had no idea what distortion was.. I was like "how the hell does his guitar sound like that?".
Even now as I'm older and I'm playing drums more often I can look to these bands as blueprints of what I want to be as a musician. The great Ian Paice from Deep Purple could drum circles around pretty much anyone in the music industry and yet… he sits back in 4/4 time and serves the song. Here is a guy who can do a snare roll with one hand faster than most drummers can do with two and yet.. he sits back and serves the song. Ian Paice to the untrained ear is just another drummer. He's a guy who plays on two and four. But, you ask a trained drummer about Ian Paice and you'll get a totally different reaction. Drummers like Bill Ward, John Bonham, Ian Paice, Vinny Appice and Cozy Powell are all inspirations for this style of music, and then being the avid music freak that I am I also dip back into the older Jazz drummers Art Blakey, Max Roach, Gene Krupa, Joe Morello and of course the greatest of all time Buddy Rich. Because you need to think of it like this, these are the drummers that Ward, Paice, Bonham and Powell learned from. So why not learn from them as well.
As far as vocalists people like Rob Halford, Dio, and Ian Gillan basically sculpted what I wanted to sing like growing up. Their range and power was unparalleled. Again you take your major influences and try to do your own thing with the groundwork they have laid down for you. It's funny because a lot of people site Ozzy as my major vocal influence but in all reality the only thing that Ozzy ever did that blew me away vocally is "Sabotage". He sang that album with some real power and I really enjoyed that era of Ozzy. Personally though I feel he whines too much for my tastes. I am a big fan of his music and you can't deny what he's done for metal however, I do not know if I would consider him a major influence.
Also if you really think about the bands that you mentioned "Deep Purple" and "Judas Priest" they are both bands that have evolved as musicians over the years. Listen to Judas Priest's "Stained Class" and then put on "Painkiller" it doesn't even sound like it could possibly be the same band and that's something that bands today could learn a little something from. Deep Purple is making better albums today than they were in the 80's and it's because they have adapted their style. They've added a bit more funk into their music and it suits them perfectly. It's still heavy and it's just great Rock & Roll but they have put some swing and blues in there and this overall groove that few bands can achieve. I hate when I hear a band that releases the same album over and over again and sadly there are a lot of bands who do that.
ED: What Metal act pisses you off the most. Name one band at least you wish that would just go away.
H: Jesus, ummm anyone who I think is faking it. I could probably fill a small island with bands that I could care less about. But, in all honesty there is a need for bands like that. Just because it's not my cup of tea doesn't mean it shouldn't exist. I'm not a fan of Avenged Sevenfold and that new wave of glam metal bullshit that is out there but, I'm sure there is someone who is… and to be honest at least they are people who can play their instruments well. Bands that tend to worry about their image more than their musicianship tend to really annoy me. Or bands with potential that are just so worried about making a "Radio song' that they can't write a song over 3 and a half minutes. While I don't consider them metal I just got done listening to the new Black Stone Cherry album and that is a band that is the epitome of what I don't like in music. I put the album on and I'm really loving their drummers groove and their guitar tone and then every song on that album is riddled with a bubblegum chorus. It's almost like they were told by someone "okay guys you have to make sure every song has a chorus and it's repeated at least 4 times…. Oh and.. be sure to sing three harmony tracks over every chorus" that shit drives me nuts. I just can't sit back as a musician and think that's what they wanted to do.
I can't stand the Rap/Metal hybrids or the Hardcore/Metal combo either to be honest. I'm very much not a fan of the over-the-top satanic bands out there either. I tried to listen to that band Deicide when I was younger. I remember buying the CD because the cover looked awesome and really evil… and it's like the Disney of evil. It's so over-the-top that it becomes Evil Dead-like funny. Some of that nonsense is so cliché it's like; who listens to that and says wow that guy is evil? My music touches on evil from a primal place. A place we all have within. Evil exists it's not by "scary" man in a black wizard's robe who's sacrificing a goat. "what did that goat ever do to you?" I find the nightmares in my head ten times more evil than the rubbish that dude sings about.
ED: What inspires you to write songs,i get a feeling that anger is one of them.
H: I love to write music about things that we really don't understand. I enjoy the paranormal and the occult if it's done in a tasteful way. I don't want to listen to some death metal band just singing the Ghostbusters theme song at four hundred beats per minute. I like the unknown of the human psyche and tapping into power that we don't know is there. I like the power of suggestion and what can manifest from it. While I will say that most of my music is written from a much darker place I will say that more times than not it's done in a very positive light. If you really think about it… how could it not be? I'm lucky enough to live my dream every day.
I do tend to write about human emotions a lot obsession, love, hate, betrayal we all feel this on a very personal level. I try to keep things as metaphorical as possible. I'm very lucky that people actually read and analyze my lyrics it's nice when someone takes the time to understand what you're saying and the places that you are trying to either take them or take them away from. Music is an escape and when someone writes me and says they can relate with something I've written it's very rewarding.
ED: How important is internet promotion to you?
H: I think that the most important thing in the world in anything is word of mouth advertising. If my friend tells me to check out a new restaurant I'm going to be much more likely to check it out from his recommendation as opposed to seeing some ad about it. The thing that helps me a lot is that the people who like my music really do go out of their way to post on online forums about my work and just spread the word about Planet Gemini. Believe me I do understand that there is no shortage of bands to check out with the advent of Myspace and the digital recording era. So for me it is really cool when someone is putting their stamp of approval on what I do.
ED: What do you want to achieve with Planet Gemini in the future.Any tours?
H: I think I've achieved everything I could hope for really. I never wanted to become a millionaire because of my music. If that were the case I'd be playing a completely different style of music. It would be watered down and incredibly fake but I could do it. If it wasn't for my damn conscious that would never let me release anything that wasn't 100% real. I get to write and record music and be somewhat successful at it. To me that is probably the biggest accomplishment I could hope for. I wouldn't fool myself and think that my style of music is for everyone because I know that it isn't. But, in the end I know I have people who will probably carry my music with them for a long long time and I have 8 year olds learning my songs on guitar who write me and send me sound samples of them playing my stuff. There is a pretty damn good chance that my music will outlive me. That's where the "Doom Eternal" concept really came from. When you create someone and people listen to it a lot it becomes part of their lives. It's quite humbling to know that right now, someone is probably listening to a Planet Gemini record. I'm just a fan of this style of music so it is extremely moving to have people putting me on the same level as some of the greats. I remember when Vinny Appice first heard Planet Gemini he was like "You are like the next generation of Black Sabbath" and I was completely floored by that comment coming from him.
As far as touring goes I have little to no interest in doing shows anymore. I do have some friends who know the material and would be happy to come and do some shows with me. Oly Olson (founding member of Trouble) even offered a while back to be the drummer for Planet Gemini but I must admit that my life right now is perfect as is. I don't want a road schedule screwing with my family life, friends and whatnot. Plus when a band like "Trouble' is only pulling in 30-50 people a night in the clubs they are playing I personally don't know how lucrative a PG tour would be. Sure I would be winning over a bigger fan-base but, as I said I am very happy with things as they are for now.
ED: What's your favorite bands at the moment?
H: My favorite bands haven't changed much since I was a child. Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Mercyful Fate, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Dio and the list goes on and on. If you mean more "newer" bands I really love the new Grand Magus album and bands like Gates of Slumber and Clutch are some bands that I constantly keep in rotation of my MP3 player. Also Terra Firma who are now defunked.
Man I would kill to work with Christian Linderson (Lord Chritus) of Terra Firma on a couple of tracks. He recently did a doom project with Peter Vicar of Reverend Bizarre fame and it sounds good, but I really feel that I could bring out a really really heavy Terra Firma type feel for him. If I could choose to work with two musicians it would be either Ronnie James Dio and Lord Chritus. Both of which I feel that I could bring something new yet old and create something very fun. Also I wouldn't mind working with Eric Wagner (former singer of Trouble) on a couple of tracks. Just to bring a blindingly heavy approach to his beatles-esque style. But, if it didn't prove to be fun for all parties involved I would axe it. Even if it was with someone I grew up idolizing like Dio, music should be stress-free and enjoyable once it becomes work is when you bow out gracefully.
ED: Doom Metal has always been underground and will more than likely always will be.I kind of like this fact about Doom Metal, I would hate for it to be thrown into the mainstream because shit goes downhill usually when that happens. Do you agree?
H: I think we kind of had a mainstream scare in the Doom metal community. Doom was becoming the "in" thing for a little while and with "The Sword" and their popularity it was quite odd to see people listening to music that was so down-trodden. I don't hate the Sword at all mind you. I just didn't think their album sounding incredibly authentic to me. It kind of sounded like a poor man's Sleep to me in some parts and their 2nd album sounds more like High on Fire so… maybe they are Matt Pike fans. Personally I think that every time the light gets shined down on Doom Metal it'll find a way to crawl back into the shadows. This style of music was born in the underground and personally I feel that's where it belongs. Again if someone is out there doing it for all the right reasons and gets mainstream attention then I can't fault them for it. But, I just can't see turning on the radio and hearing Gates of Slumber anytime soon, and I mean that in the nicest way possible.
ED: Why should people listen to Planet Gemini?
H: Well, if you've got a little bit of spare time and want to hear someone who lives, eats and bleeds their music then I would suggest checking out a song or two. If you even remotely like it check out the album. I understand the music might be a little more "artsy" than most Doom Metal fans are used to but they are free to download and 100% real. Packed with emotion and power and I think if you take the time to let the music sink in you'll get it right away. If it's not your thing then delete the files and thank you for taking the time to check it out. But, if you are a fan of bands like Candlemass, Trouble, Black Sabbath…etc what do you really have to lose? Every review I get usually uses the terms "Soul" and "Passion" and that is no coincidence. I've always said Planet Gemini is my soul in music form. It's what I am and what I always wanted to be. I inhale life and exhale Planet Gemini. I love both and I think that it shows in my art.
Friday, August 8, 2008
I just want to get a few things out of the way before I go on a long rant about the future of Planet Gemini in 2008/2009.
As most of you know (hopefully all of you by now) Wicked was released on this webpage on August 4th of this year and the traffic basically slowed my webpage down to a crawl. If you had a hard time downloading the album on the first couple of days that would be why. Everything should be fine now as it only lasted for the first two days so please.. download away!.
I can't begin to tell you how pleased I am to have Wicked released and out there for everyone to hear. It's quite dark and is heavy as an album can be.. so if you haven't had a chance to listen to this album yet please take the time and check out the first couple of tracks. It might be your cup of tea…. Or it might not.
It is funny usually when I release an album I get tons of immediate feedback. Pretty much within the first day of release… This one took about 2 or 3 days for the feedback to start flooding in. It was well worth the wait as I really do feel that a lot of people have taken time to digest this album quite well. It is unrelenting… extremely heavy and actually quite progressive in some ways.
To make a long story short (or.. as short as I can ever make something) Wicked has broken all of my download records to date. Which tells me that the Planet Gemini name is getting out there more and more and that's all due to you who visit the webpage, the myspace page.. and just all of the people who support the band in general.
So for all of that.. I thank you all.
Now, I have gotten a couple of e-mails asking if this album will be available for purchase… One thing that I really wanted to do years ago with Planet Gemini was to create a project where I could give away music to people and I realize that I am alienating those of you who want an official pressed release of this album. But, the reality of the situation is that the cost of pressing these albums are quite expensive so it really is something that I have to weigh out doing. I really want to support this album with a pressing and have been considering maybe shopping it around to a couple smaller labels but, I have a hard time agreeing to someone owning my music. So, time will tell on that question. I will be putting up a lossless version of the CD soon so you all have that to look forward to.
Now onto the meat of this update
*The future of Planet Gemini*
Well, Wicked is released. The unicorn of my existence has been bound, caught and put on display for the world to see. So now… where do I go from here?
Well, I have 2 albums in the can ready to be recorded and filled out. (about 20 song ideas and demos lying around in the studio). I'm going to take about a month off and record a couple of bands that have been waiting to get in my studio… So, after I get done recording and producing a couple of albums for some other bands I will start working on…
Cauldron of Fuzz 666: the E.N.D.
Cauldron of Fuzz: "Evil Never Dies" will be another full length Planet Gemini album (Right now it is consisting of 8 tracks that are a little more lengthy and more jam oriented than the other PG stuff) I am looking to experiment with some organ and synth sounds a bit on this album but never fear… it will be bone crushingly heavy and more evil than one can imagine. The song titles I have so far are…
01. Secret Agent 666
02. The Nightmare Room
03. All of My Colors Turned Grey
04. Evil Never Dies
Again these are all subject to change at will… Once the album is finished I will piece all of the songs together. I probably won't be starting this album until mid-September because I really enjoyed last year's spontaneous Cauldron of Fuzz album and I want to keep that "Fresh" feel alive.
After that album I still plan on releasing another full lengthed Planet Gemini album in early-mid 2009 that I am currently calling "The Book of Red". I don't know if that name is going to stick once more material gets written for it but we'll see I suppose.
As always the most important thing to me is to make sure that everyone feels like they are a part of the project. I will be releasing a "Blueprint" version of Wicked. With some alternate takes of songs and maybe even a few of the original Wicked demos (that were written with Josh) as well.
All in all there is going to be a TON of Planet Gemini material out there for everyone this year and it's only going to increase more and more. I'm looking to experiment with different instruments and styles. I'm always evolving but above everything else one thing will always remain true. I love this.. I love what I do.. and I appreciate you all so much for listening to my stuff.. because above all else.. this is THE dream… and to be lucky enough to create and have people enjoy it so much means more to me than I can ever express. I don't care about selling CDs, labels, money.. all that shit means nothing.. The music is the only thing that matters. It is pure, untouched and completely unfiltered.. From my mind to your ears… and the fact that you all respect goes to show that we're all on a higher level than most.
Thank you all
H (The RIGHT Hand of God)
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I know it's kind of been a long time since I've given a band status update... but things have kind of been in limbo for a while. My number 1 issue that I've been running into lately is that I've had a little TOO much time on my hands and when you have too much time on your hands you don't make the most of the time being wasted (does that even make sense?...). Anyway... I have come to a few conclusions within the last couple of days and I figured that I would share them with you guys know.
Okay, First of all. I've gotten a couple e-mails inquiring about old material. (How they can get it, is it still in print..etc) First of all let me say that 13 & COF are out of print for good. I have about 10 copies left of both and don't want to part with all of them. I won't be doing reissues of these albums for many reasons. The most of all is that the mastering is horrendus and I do not have the original master recordings anymore (due to a harddrive failure and an idiot (me) who neglected to back them up.
But, upon redesigning the webpage I will be putting up 2 old albums for download. "Cauldron of Fuzz III: Legion"  and "Cauldron of Fuzz II: The Ritual Continues" .
and I guess the biggest news of this update will be that I have decided to release my long delayed album "Wicked" as is. While it's not 100% perfect it is better for me to release it to the public than to let the songs dwell on my harddrive unheard. The version of the album will be the version I sent out to the press a long while back... it really is polished quite well. I fell into a trap of "overpolishing" and I really do feel that I was really holding the album back from it's release. Wicked features 11 tracks all written and recorded in 2006. The tracklisting is....
02. Grim (My God of Red)
03. Silver Strings
07. The Beast on Your Back
08. Author of Pain
09. Preachin' to the Choir
10. The Deadly Sleep
This album will be released for FREE on www.planetgemini.net on August 4th, 2008 (a year after it's last announced release date).
Wicked is a very special album to me.. filled with tons of venom and passion.. and my biggest issue with the album was that I felt I could re-create it better under more "sane" circumstances... However, when recorded in a more "sober" state took away from a lot of the power. Hence forth the delays...
What you will hear is not typical "in control" Hellion from Planet Gemini. It really is my decent into madness and depression... and the subsiquent resurrection and power that sometimes vitriol can bring.
I hope you all enjoy the album... while it is not perfect.. upon listening it again this last weekend I've kind of realized that it is perfectly imperfect... and can't really be improved upon without lossing all of that build and aggression.
I always said "Wicked will be ready when it's ready".. and I guess the real fact of the matter was that... "Wicked will be ready when I am ready".. I wasn't ready yet... Now I am.
Thank you all
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I just wanted to take a quick moment and extend a big "Thank you" to everyone out there that keeps things like the Planet Gemini Wikipedia page and the Planet Gemini Encyclopedia Metallium page up to date. Personally I have no CLUE how to update that shit and I just had to send a request to the Metallium page to update some minor stuff. (all I could update is lyrical theme which I stupidly put "Satanic" instead of "Mysticism" which might have been a better theme. Either way..)
So I just wanted to take the time and say "Thanks" because really some of the shit that is on the Wikipedia page is pretty cool. I didn't put the stuff up about the side project and I'm wondering who did. Even getting the names of the performers is quite… um… impressive.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Well, since originally posting the demo of "The Fallen Angel" I've gotten quite a few e-mails and request.
The first request I've gotten was to post the lyrics because no one has a clue about what I'm saying. The other was a direct link to the song so they can download it and put it on their MP3 player or whathaveyou…
So… ask and you shall receive.
Above is the link where the song can be downloaded… (keep in mind it is a very rough demo if you are hearing it for the first time).
and here are the lyrics… short and sweet.
The Fallen Angel
The Devil rides by moonlight
Forging what would be his throne
His legion sits behind him
and yet he feels alone
The angel rides in starlight
and whispers on the wind
his chanting so hypnotic
as he slips beneath your skin
Now no one rides the starlight
Cause you can never run when death calls
and they say that the devil, he spies on the angel that falls
The angel that falls.
Thanks to everyone who has written me to give me some feedback on the track.
It's quite… popular to people who have heard it.
Hope you all enjoy
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
I figured I would give the "heads up" to those of you who do not frequent the Myspace page (which can be found at www.myspace.com/planetgeminidoom) that I put up a new Demo of a song entitled "The Fallen Angel". It is a very "spacey" sounding song and is a VERY rough mix demo. I spent a lot of time in the studio this last week and literally just wrote that song and recorded it yesterday.
The production is so/so. It needs a little work. To me it sounds like a cross between Zeppelin and Pentagram maybe with a little Floyd thrown in there.
I'm liking it a lot so… check it out
Saturday, March 29, 2008
I've been getting a couple of e-mails lately asking "how do you go about doing this or that?" and I have one universal response for everything. It's not only about music but I believe it's the key to life and happiness in general.. are you ready?
Find what works for you... and exploit the hell out of it.
There it is.. there is no other way to say it really. I practice like a maniac when I can't do something... it's just the way I'm wired. With that being said someone else might need a more strict time setting. Like "okay I'm going to practice this everyday when I get home from 6PM-6:30PM..etc". There really is no "key" to anything. I might have to practice 12 hours to get something that someone else will get in 1 hour. It's just the way it works.
When I wear the producer hat during recording I will always give someone a "pearl of wisdom" that makes them say "whoa I never thought of doing it like that" and don't get me wrong that's always great… but if you only practice what someone else suggests to you. You will never elevate yourself to a level above that person teach.
If it's recording make sure you read up on what the masters have to say. There are webpages like www.recordbetteraudio.com or there are TONS of Podcasts out there that will help you find the sound or technique that you are looking for… my only suggestion I can give is.. once you find it… open it up.. see how/why it works. Try deconstructing the idea and find out WHY it did what it does.
I truly believe the same thing for life in general. (not to sound to motivational here or anything) but I get so many people saying "Man your job is awesome, your life is so stress-free…etc" there is a reason behind that.. I saw a way to improve things in my life and I did it. There is no "can't" and once you start understanding that you'll understand that life is only what you put into it.
(God I am sounding preachy).
Anyway.. as for my guitar sound. I use a lot of different techniques. I mic a Marshal Half Stack with an SM57 off axis (about 45 degrees or so) I keep the mic about 1 inch away from the cone. Sometimes I also set a "Room mic" which is in the back of the room for natural reverb… I will ALWAYS record a direct track. Using a direct box right into the board. I truly believe that gives off frequencies that you just can't get from a mic. You definitely can OVER do it but.. it always helps to have more tracks than less.
I have had songs where I have done 4 guitar tracks (all playing the same thing at different eq frequencies) but… personally I tend to just stick with the solid 2 guitar tracks and a Solo track (or 2 if there are harmonies)
For vocals I double track a lot. Or sometimes I'll single track and copy the track and move one a couple milliseconds ahead to give that "slapback" delay. It adds a doubling effect without it sounding to "chorus". Doubling is really a skill a singer needs to develop. If I am recording a singer who is unsure of himself I'll often record him once.. and mute the track and tell him to re-do it.. and see how it sync's up without him knowing.
Drums are a completely different matter and to be honest I can't give much advice for those besides… Less is more when it comes to a drum kit. I have a HUGE kit… it's not needed. Whenever I have someone record I basically strip the kit down to a 3 piece. Just because most drummers don't need all the bells and whistles and you're basically wasting time getting all of the mics sounding good when all you need is..
1 bass drum mic (don't cheap out on this)
2 for the snare (over and under)
1 for each tom (Rack & Floor)
and 2 overheads (remember to be careful for phasing out on the mix)
now… my kit (as it stands right now is mic'd)
1 bass drum mic (I don't remember the model number but it's a Shure.. it cost me about $300 it nice..)
2 SM57's for the Snare Drum (over and under.. I actually duck tape the sides of the 57's to stop as much "rattling" as possible)
4 SM57's for each tom (10,12,14,16)
2 Overheads (Cheapies… Shure PG something er others..)
and 2 more 57's for Over the Hi Hats and Under the Ride.
I mix my drums this way… (as far as faders go.. I'm going to use %)
Bass Drum 80%
Snare Over 35%
Snare Under 45%
Overheads (Panned to the Left and Right 90%) 20% (each)
Toms 65% (I do tend to take the lower toms down sometimes)
Advice for DRUMMERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (please read)
> I'm not saying that a metronome is the end all be all.. but.. if you can't play to a solid rhythem… LEARN!... Or you're going to find yourself paying a lot more money in the studio. I love the sound of a live band recording but some drummers just need to be grounded.. and some people need to punch and it's almost impossible to punch drums that are not to a metronome.. so LEARN!.. that goes for guitarists and bass players as well… if you can't play to a click track… sit down and work on your rhythm it's badly needed.
> Bring an extra snare head into the studio (or an extra snare would be even better if you have one) It's sad to say but some snares just don't sound right when put to tape. Some are pingy and annoying (see Lars' snare on St Anger).
> Learn how to tune your drums! I have had some drummers come in.. sit down and there drums have sounded like absoleute dog shit… This includes a couple of people who were playing for over 20 years. Your drums should SING in the studio… fucking throw out those O rings.. in the studio you're better duck taping any unwanted noise away.. but you should always have a little over-hum that continues after you hit that drum.. (no rattling… that is bad).
GUITARISTS (and bassists for that matter)
> when you know you are going into the studio be sure to restring your guitar the night before. Use that "String Ease" shit.. Put the strings on and tune the guitar about a half a step higher than you normally tune.. spray the strings and let it sit over night.. wake up in the morning and tune the guitar properly.. fact is.. your strings have just been stretched and will produce a much better tone and a much more solid sustain. IF YOUR STRINGS ARE MORE THAN 2 WEEKS OLD… RESTRING!!!!!!
> bring a spare set of guitar strings.. (and maybe even 2 extra high E strings just in case.) you never know.
>Bring (or make sure the studio has) sprite or some light carbonated beverage. Sounds crazy but I've seen sprite save a lot of vocalists when their voice was dying.
>Drink hot tea and do vocal exercises 30 minutes to an hour before going into the studio. Even if you're a screamer.
Myth: "I don't know why I can't sing this… I sound much better while playing guitar/bass"
Fact: No, you've always sounded like that you just didn't hear yourself because you were too busy playing guitar. Your voice doesn't change.. your comfort level does.
Myth: "We can just punch that… right?"
Fact: No! a lot of times you can't punch something without it screwing with the timing of the song. It is just a fact of life… sometimes you'll save more time re-recording something than working with something that starts off broken.
Myth: "I want my friend to come in the studio.."
Fact: NO you don't.. too many cooks spoil the soup… Fuck when I have a band in here.. if I notice that they are harping on the singer.. I will kick the band out and work with the singer one on one.. if the band doesn't like it… then find another singer.
Myth: "I just want to play around and experiment"
Fact: NO…. that is a job for you at home.. not in a studio where you are paying by the hour. You should KNOW what you're going to do when you go in.. or.. invest in a studio because with recording gear prices as low as they are you really can do this stuff yourself.
Myth: "I don't want to record direct.. I like my guitar sound"
Fact: You sir are an idiot! I understand you love your sound.. I understand it's a part of you… and you don't want to abort your baby right… right!?... well.. you don't have to.. but.. understand that technology has progressed and there is a lot to be said for getting those "direct channel" frequencies… Sometimes a blasting guitar is not going to mesh well with a microphone.. and .. well.. you don't want to record your guitar at low levels.
Myth: "Compression and Gate should be on EVERY TRACK!"
Fact: this is a HUGE misconception when it comes to recording. Compressing tracks tends to destroy important frequencies. (especially low end) Compressing bass guitar is VERY tricky.. and should only be done by a professional. Keep in mind. Your master will be compressed… and tweaked to high heaven.. so you're not hearing a final product at all.
That is all for now.. I hope this post helps someone..
Just please remember what I'm saying here… Explore every option. When I began playing drums I was taking advice from every side.. even moving my drums in uncomfortable setups because "that's the way Oly Olson played it" or.. "that's the way Vinny Appice suggested"… here's the thing.. Oly and Vinny are both light years ahead of me… but… the fact remains that… we are different people.. and we all learn different ways.. and have different positions we like to sit.. watch people bowl. When you first learn to bowl you copy what you are taught.. within' 2 or 3 times going back you start to find what works for you… so in turn.. life… is like bowling..
Don't be a gutterball!
(that wasn't even planned.. HA!)
Hope you are all well
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
I know I haven't had all that much to say in the last couple of months and it really is for good reason. I haven't been working on Planet Gemini material all that much. I've been wearing the producer's hat much more than the artist. Both are fun and don't get me wrong I'm not complaining at all but, I feel it is time to start heavily working on the next Planet Gemini album.
I have some great ideas that I've been throwing around but haven't really taken the time to polish much. Songs that I have floating around at the moment are "Hole in Heaven", "The Book of Red", and "The Cellar". I'm sure you can tell by the album titles that this is going to be a bit more of an "occult" driven album. I've been watching a lot of old movies about "the devil" and "possession" and I must admit it is really affecting the way that my music is coming out. Demos I have floating around are much more… experimental but I'm sure they'll heavy up nicely once I take the time to layer and play with things.
I don't like naming an album before it is released but right now I am referring to the album as "The Book of Red". Again, that is nothing set in stone but I have a feeling that it will all work itself out in due time.
Okay, as of right now I'd like to say that I should have the album done by early summer. However, as you all know sometimes I get a little sidetracked with other bands coming in and whatnot so I'm not 100% sure about anything. I will say this however, the 4 or 5 songs I am contemplating putting on the album are all 8-10 minutes long. So it's not going to be a short album by any stretch of the imagination. There will be no cover song on this album as I do plan on pressing it fully.
*Cauldron of Fuzz VI*
I can say this.. if the new album lasts beyond summer I will be putting it on hold to work on the next Cauldron of Fuzz installment. I REALLY enjoyed the last Cauldron of Fuzz (which can be downloaded for free here on the webpage). For those of you who have written me about "A Time Before Time" you'll be happy to know that there is going to be a lot more songs like that. I've been rehearsing the Cauldron V stuff a lot. I really wouldn't mind doing a "Live" recording of a Planet Gemini set for everyone who is clamoring to hear the stuff live. I have some friends that I jam with that would be happy to be on a PG recording. My only issue is playing the old songs without Josh feels kind of weird.. especially because the bass player I've been jamming with plays much more technical than Josh did and it sounds a little different.
I'm going to take the time to upload some new demos sometime in the next couple of weeks. Due to the popularity of "A Time Before Time" I figured that I would put up the original demo. It's not too different but it really gives you an idea of how I write vocals. The demo track has the original improvisation. I have a couple more gems I would like to release and maybe for the heck of it I'll release a new track in demo form or something.
So hopefully you can see that everything is back on track. Expect a re-launch of PlanetGemini.net in the coming months with some new content. Also… let me know if anyone would be interested in a podcast of sorts. I'm not looking to talk 100% about Planet Gemini, but about recording techniques that I use and how I go about getting certain sounds and certain ways to record different singers. As always your best way to reach me is by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Never fear I'm not looking to do the next "Ask a Ninja" or anything.. (which is fantastic by the way)
But I know there are some great audio podcasts that really help people that are just getting started.. and while I don't consider myself a professional or anything, I have worked with many seasoned pro's who have taught me many studio tricks… Music to me should be shared and as musicians we should ALL be about sharing techniques and making all of our material better.
Thank you all so much and I look forwarding to hearing for you soon~!
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Well it's my first update in quite a while. After a terrible bout with influenza I haven't found myself in the studio all that much and I haven't really been very creative at all. When I am going into the studio it is to record some other bands projects and whatnot. So in the longrun there really isn't much to report on the Planet Gemini front.
I have a couple tracks written and demo'd for my next release but I'm not 100% sure if it is going to be the material that I want to be released next. I am more of a "free spirit" when it comes to music.. just taking it as it comes.. I'm recording anything and everything that is in my head. Not all of it is coming out "metal" so I'm polishing those songs and I'm going to keep them for my own benefit. The Next PG album must be heavier and more brutal than the last… that's always the goal.
I hope all is well with all of you
and I will talk to you soon
Monday, January 21, 2008
One of the MAJOR disadvantages to doing and online release of an album is that the media (whether it be print or online) tend to not review your album. I can't really explain why… I would probably break it down to reviewers don't really get paid to do what they do so they like to have a retail copy of the CD to keep as "payment" for their hard work. Personally, I can understand that theory however, I frown slightly on it due to the fact that sometimes I would just rather put out material online than spend the money printing it. So… if you are a reviewer or know someone who reviews material.. please take this stuff into consideration. Not just for me but for other bands.
One webpage that did actually take notice of Cauldron of Fuzz V is my good friends at STONERROCK.COM. These guys have taken an interest in Planet Gemini since it's inception and I'm quite lucky that Dan and crew are all open minded to my "underground" type philosophy.
The following is a review for "Cauldron of Fuzz V: Sometimes it Comes Back"
Planet Gemini - Cauldron of Fuzz V: Sometimes It Comes Back
Reviewer: Joel Geraghty (StonerRock.com)
Label: WoeconstrictoR Records
Release date: October 31, 2007
The very definition of a solo band, Planet Gemini is a one-man show owned and operated by the capable and talented Hellion. He sings and plays all the instruments in addition to recording, mixing, producing, and releasing everything himself from his home studio. After putting the next planned LP, Wicked, on hold for the time being, H's urge to create was so powerful that he wrote and recorded the newest installment in Planet Gemini's annual Cauldron of Fuzz Halloween series in less than three weeks and was still tweaking the record the night before its free release via download on the band's website.
Cauldron of Fuzz V: Sometimes It Comes Back is a guitar-heavy album with riffs, solos, leads, and layers galore as it retains the heavy traditional doom slant of Gemini's previous recordings on tracks like the pummeling "Ritual Evolved" and the sludgy "Demonic Wall," while "The Start of My Demise" is an upbeat rocker with a groovy stoner vibe. The record also admittedly marks a more experimental direction to explore the limits of what a studio-only band can do, without any limitations or concern for whether or not the songs can be replicated live in concert. Trippy vocal effects and ethereal psychedelic elements are woven throughout the two back-to-back epics of the album, "A Time Before Time" and "Temples of Infinity," which combined clock in at approximately 18 minutes, but the journey is satisfying with the brilliant use of light and shade. H approaches his music as art and it shows. These are my two favorite songs from the lot and I am intrigued by the hint of H following this path on his next project.
Evident from the perfectly-titled lead off track, "Ritual Evolved", Cauldron of Fuzz V represents the evolution of the player behind Planet Gemini as H's primal, authoritative drumming has vastly improved and his bass lines are so meaty you could eat them for dinner. The guitars soar and H's distinct vocal s t y l e sounds better than ever. A blazing cover of Pentagram's "Day of Reckoning" caps off the album, paying tribute to one of Planet Gemini's primary influences. Don't let the "free" price tag fool you, this isn't something that sounds like it was thrown together and recorded in somebody's half-assed basement studio. Planet Gemini is serious business and Cauldron of Fuzz V: Sometimes It Comes Back is the pinnacle of one man's vision.
I would like to take the time to thank Joel (AKA Chrononaut) for reviewing the album. It's very much appreciated.