Happy New Year! HUGE NEWS: Better Than The Book finally has a band and is preparing to go live in 2020, new amp, building pedals, a special Tales of Zale episode 3 clip, more Patreon rewards + setting and reflecting on goals!
Happy New Year 2020 everyone and hope you had a great holiday season however you celebrated! It's been a crazy exciting time since the last post and there is SO much HUGE news to share in this one as you can probably see from the title! It's going to be a long post so without further wait, let's dive straight into it!
But first, let's start with some backstory: Better Than The Book has been a studio project of mine since mid 2012, but apart from making the records themselves, I never really had the opportunity / means to take it to the stage. Fast forward to 2016 when Two Years On was released, and things started getting interesting. With 2 tracks making it on the radio over in the USA, I was getting interviews and requests asking when I would be touring the USA, but as a person with no band or funding, I really had no idea what to do. I even had a USA label approach me about the project back then, but without a gig-ready band at the time, I couldn't fulfill the needs they wanted. Fast forward again to 2019 and Hopes and Dreams, and even before the album was released the attention was heating up with radio play as far as Australia and many web features and interviews. When the album launched on July 19ths, things exploded over the next few months and it was clear that people wanted me to take this live, and I'd be kicking myself if I didn't give it a shot. By the end of October, 7/10 tracks from the album had made it onto the radio all across the USA, UK and Australia!
After much discussion with a few close and musical friends, in August 2019, four of us got together for a casual living room jam and strategy meeting, and all things considered, it went super smoothly and I was happy to give this live thing a shot. We set out 8 tracks to learn to start with with the aim to practice hard and meet up for a full band, loud and proud rehearsal before the end of the year, and in late December 2019 it happened, and it was spectacular! Considering we'd never played most of these tunes together, and certainly not in a full band situation, it was already more than 90% there musically, with just a few tiny kinks to iron out (like vocal harmonies and who was doing which backing vocals). I was on top of the world, and at the end of that practice, it was pretty darn clear that 2020 would be an exciting year for Better Than The Book!
And so without further wait, I'd like to formally announce that Better Than The Book will be hitting the stage in 2020 with the following line-up of my crazy friends:
Nick Standing (Me): Lead vocals and guitar
Eamon Standing: Backing vocals, guitar and harmonica (one man horn section)
Sam Brown: Backing vocals and bass guitar
Andy Forman: Drums
Eamon, Sam and I were in our first band together, I was in a band with Andy, Sam was in that same band with Andy before I joined, Eamon and Andy made a record together with me producing it, Sam's been in another band I was in after I left, I've been in a battle of the bands against Andy with that pre-mentioned band (before I left), and of course Andy lent his guitar playing to Better Than The Book's 1st EP One Small Step on the track "Woof Woof, Nag Nag" (as well as many gang shouts on the album along with Eamon). In short, we all have a long musical history together and I honestly couldn't think of a better bunch of people to be doing this with!
What's next for the project? Well we've another 7ish songs to learn before our next meet-up in April then it's time to do the final polishing and start looking for gigs! We already have one confirmed for November (more details to come closer to the time) so at the very latest, our first gig will be then! It's been a tonne of hard work but I can't wait to really push this to see how far we can take it, and if you want to help support the project here on Patreon, it'd really help cover the practice studio and travel costs while we prepare (and get some merch sorted), and of course you'll be getting all the good stuff and full BTTB discography here when you sign up! 2 new patrons have already joined since I made this announcement on Tuesday so come join in the fun over on Patreon!
Back to that epic practice in December, I did manage to get some footage of that, as well as subsequent practices too, so keep a lookout for some of that coming hopefully later this month (lots of footage to sort through)! Overall, 2019 was a heck of an exciting year for Better Than The Book, but I have a feeling that 2020 will be just as exciting in a completely different way! There's still a heck of a lot of work to do in preparation for gigging but I think musically and equipment wise we're pretty much there!
And speaking of new equipment, I'm super happy with my lovely new and compact gigging amp I got just before the practice, an Orange Micro Dark! Don't let its size fool you, this thing is DEAFENING if it wants to be! Plugged into a Marshall 4x12 cab at practice, I could only get the volume up 1/3 the way before it was plenty loud enough for the room and to keep up with Andy's drumming! Simple, sweet sounding, my kind of tone and doesn't even weigh 1kg! I'll definitely be putting this in my rucksack for practice rather than taking my 50 watt 14kg+ Marshall amp on the train, as lovely as it sounds.
For the gear heads among you, since the Micro Dark only has one channel (or sound at a time), as opposed to my Marshall which you can switch between 2 via a foot-switch, I took some time during the Christmas period to build a little pedal for it! This'll be the 4th (and most simple) pedal I've designed / built from scratch, and I call it the "Pre-Wash". Put it before you amp and when engaged it cleans up your signal for less distortion, in the same way as rolling the volume down on your guitar can clean the signal. It basically turns a single channel amp into a basic 2 channel one. Neat! I still need to source a speaker cabinet for the Micro Dark to play through in the studio, but as of right now I have all the equipment I need to gig Better Than The Book (which is half the battle)! Check out the Micro Dark and my homemade "Pre-Wash" pedal below!
In terms of other fun holiday acquisitions, my brother Eamon gifted me the Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) triple vinyl soundtrack which was awesome! Definitely my favorite film score of 2019 and almost certainly my favourite film of the year too (controversial opinion I know)! Fun times! Additionally, with all the crazy worldwide feedback on my music last year too, my one and only Eva gifted me a world map to mark up and keep tabs on where my music has been played and featured as well as all the places I've collaborated/worked with and more! I'm super looking forward to filling that in when I can, and planning my JabunAudio world takeover from there! Been meaning to do this for a long time!
Next this week, I have a very special clip to share with you from the upcoming Tales of Zale Episode 3 by Hikarian Animations! I worked on this earlier last year for a cinema screening in Copenhagen doing my usual sound mixing and audio production roles, and it was a pleasure as always to be working on it! I believe this'll have been my first piece of work to be shown in a cinema too (mixed to Dolby specifications I must add) which is very exciting for me! I hope you enjoy the clip below, a huge thanks to Sif for our continued work together on this amazing project, and no doubt there'll be more mixing for me to do on this episode later this year!
Next this week, another month comes by and another set of rewards on Patreon are out, and this time we're continuing with the 2013 Jabun back catalog of music with another and one of my favourite remixes: Clare Jeffrey's "60 Days [Jabun Orchestral Mix]"!
$1 rewards: https://www.patreon.com/posts/32058625
$5 rewards: https://www.patreon.com/posts/32058620
$10 rewards: https://www.patreon.com/posts/32096914
Find out more: https://www.patreon.com/NickStanding
This remix really takes me back and was one of my first real attempts at orchestral writing (which was released), something I'm very much planning to get back to in the upcoming 2nd Jabun album this year. In summer 2013 Clare, who was a friend of mine and close with the people I hung around with at the time, came to me to record a lovely acoustic + vocal song “60 days”. We recorded that in an afternoon I think in the same makeshift bedroom studio that Better Than The Book’s “Two Years On” was recorded in, and with the recording ready for me to mix and master at the end of the day, I began my usual work. I often find when I’m listening to music, especially with my “production hat” on, these things really mix and arrange themselves, telling you what they need and where in order to bring out the best in the melodies or atmosphere, and while I was mixing this lovely acoustic version, the song was saying to me that I had to try making it sound HUGE as well! The result was “60 Days [Jabun Orchestral Mix]” which was really only made for the fun of it but I’m super pleased with it even to this day. With that said, I think I’ll let you hear it for yourselves, I hope you enjoy it, and a huge thanks to Clare for having me record and produce the original as well as have fun with the remix too! It was a blast!
For the $10+ patrons, I have a VERY special treat for you this time: a download package with 10+ minutes of rough demos from the upcoming 2nd Jabun album as well as articles on the composition/production process for each of the tracks contained! Become a $10+ patron to access that article and many more now, and remember that you'll gain access to all historic rewards and posts for your Patreon tier too when you become a supporter! With the new REWARD ARCHIVE tag it's never been easier to catch up with all those posts and music downloads you've missed too! I hope you enjoy them :)
That's it for this month's rewards and another Jabun track will be coming next time as we continue with the final original track from 2013's Jabun discography! See you then!
Finally this week, it's the beginning of the month and of the year AND of the decade, so it's time to reflect on and set not just some monthly goals but some yearly ones too! I do have a goals list for the decade too, but it's a bit long for this post so I'll be keeping that to myself! Let's see what was set for December 2019:
1) Sort and schedule Patreon reward posts for while I'm away
2) Organise and prepare for the first Better Than The Book full-band practice session
3) Write & record 22.5+ minutes of rough demos for the 2nd Jabun album (total)
4) Finish recording vocals for that cover song (low priority)
So 1) was done no problem, and with that epic BTTB full-band rehearsal I mentioned previously 2) was done too! I wasn't sure how much I'd be able to get done of 3) since I was away and making the most of time away and with family and friends, and although I didn't manage the full 22.5+ minutes, I did manage just over 18 minutes which isn't so bad. 4) was a write-off from shortly after the get-go as I already had a bad throat at the beginning of December and was making sure my voice would be ok for the rehearsals in later December which thankfully they were! With all that reflected on, here's what I'd like to achieve in January 2020:
1) Write & record 30+ minutes of rough demos for the 2nd Jabun album (total)
2) Finish recording vocals for that cover song
3) Update the websites (change the dates, update descriptions on front page etc...)
4) Sort the next set of Patreon rewards
5) Sort the arrangement and practice materials for the next set of 7 BTTB songs
6) Set up a BTTB Instagram account and share the links on the web etc...
7) Hang up and mark up my JabunAudio world map
8) Sort through all the BTTB footage from the practice(s) and get ready to upload it
That's a lot of goals for the month, but time waits for no one so I'd like to be as productive as I can, whether I can finish them all or not! 1) would be nice and really should only equate to finishing 4 demo tracks, which with all the current half-finished material should hopefully be doable. 2) should be a day's work and now that my throat's better should be doable. 3) will take a while and will be tedious, but needs to be done. 4) I already know what these'll be so I just need to write the posts. 5) is a high priority as the other guys need to know what they're playing and singing ready for the meet-up in April. 6) was recommended in a strategy meeting as a good way to get people hyped for the project and spread the word, so it'll hopefully be worth the effort. 7) will be fun! 8) again will be a bit tedious but I really can't wait to show you all what BTTB live will sound like! BUSY month ahead, but wish me luck and hopefully I'll be able to get through it all! All the best with you own goals too and feel free to share them in the comment section below and we can cheer each other on!
Onto the yearly goals I set at the start of January 2019, here's what I had:
1) Release the 3rd BTTB album and (at least) start on another BTTB or Jabun album
2) There's a cover song I've been meaning to do for a LONG time so I'd like to release that too
3) Invest in some new studio equipment and/or instruments
4) Make some new connections and help make more animations
5) Keep doing what I do, and keep getting better at it!
6) Be a better business as well as an audio engineer, music producer and musician. Make 2019 the best financial year for JabunAudio yet!
Overall, not too bad, and while I didn't get all of these completely done, I made a tonne of other achievements which I'm very happy with. With Better Than The Book's Hopes and Dreams out (and then some) and around half a Jabun album demoed so far 1) is very much completed! 2) is well on the way but was delayed due to illness and an unexpectedly long down-time when JabunAudio moved in September, as well as the long winter break. I think I'm only just behind schedule on this and aim to have it done before Easter. 3) I think I can say is done too! With the new gigging amp mentioned above as well as the wonderful melodica which I bought earlier this year (which is already on some of the new Jabun demos), I think I've definitely put back and invested in my work as well as treated myself to some well earned rewards. 4) I can't actually remember whether I've made any new connections audio-work wise this year, but I've certainly maintained and strengthen a fair few and as demonstrated with the Tales of Zale clip above, I'm still very much working on animations which I love! With all the radio attention worldwide including idobi radio, BBC Introducing, and The Ska Show with Beefy (The world's #2 ska show), I think I can safely say I'm getting better at what I do and certainly have been keeping myself busy doing it (5)! Finally 6) while it hasn't been the best financial year for JabunAudio (moving is always quite the finance sink), it certainly hasn't been the worst which is always good! Reflecting on it, I think last year I was more pushing for success with BTTB rather than JabunAudio in general, and I think that shows in both projects. Overall I'd say 2019 was the best year so far for my music, but I think 2020 with the right push can be even better, and an even better one for JabunAudio too! Here's some targets for 2020:
1) Finish and release that cover song!
2) Finish or at least be in the final stages before releasing the 2nd Jabun album
3) Release the 3 mystery bonus projects I plan to release!
4) Play my first full band gig as Better Than The Book
5) Start work on a new BTTB EP/album?
6) Make a new and updated Patreon intro video
7) Invest in some new studio equipment and/or instruments
8) Keep doing what I do, and keep getting better at it!
9) Make 2020 the best financial year for JabunAudio yet!
2020 certainly has some big aspirations but I think they're all doable with the right hard work and know-how. It's definitely looking to be a more self-music focussed year, but I'm super looking forward to working on more collaborative and client projects too, such as Tales of Zale Episode 3 and more! Wish me luck and again feel free to share your own goals in the comment section below and we can cheer each other on! All the best!
And that just about wraps up this mammoth post to begin the decade! I am going to be busy as heck over the next week I'm sure updating the website and scheduling posts (as well as trying to find a speaker cab for the new little amp on eBay), but I hope to find some time for some music making too! Lots to do! Until the next one, I hope you have an amazing start to the decade and thanks as always for supporting JabunAudio, Better Than The Book, and my various projects! If you want more content and to support my music projects more closely, head over to Patreon and join the community there for a front row seat! Hope you enjoy it and take care!
Nick Standing; HurpADervish; Jabun!
Keep up to date with all of Nick's projects on a monthly basis right here!