The 2017 The Ramone Year In Review

This past year has involved a lot of effort both on a physical and mental level
I have had some really great moments and I have had even more moments where I should have been demoralized more than I was
If there’s one thing I can take away from this year is that I have confidence in myself that I can work hard
My biggest enemy is my own mental and emotional attitude when things don’t work or when people don’t give a shit but I cannot deny myself that the results of this year have been very positive

As 2017 approached, I had my 2nd round of background videos and was just staring to investigate a multi-track audio interface
I settled on the Presonus 1818 because I will use it in both recording and performace
This enabled me to record my drums into individual tracks so that I could give more control to the live sound engineer

I was planning to gig more regularly but I got a little sidetracked because I joined a traditional Ramones Tribute band called Sedated
I was a little uncomfortable wearing a wig but I eventually justified it by calling it “cosplay”
My plans to re-record a new set list would continue but I would play most of my live shows with Sedated
Recording the drums is the first step in my process of building new backing videos
Playing those songs with a live band really helped me to nail down the drum parts
About 80% of the drum parts were recorded by memory with only the click track in my ear monitors
Most of the songs got recorded fairly quickly and I did have to record a couple by listening to the actual song

*It may seem a lot easier to just play along to the original songs but I tried that in the very first stages of The Ramone and it just didn’t work
There were fluctuations in my timing and dynamics because I was being emotionally affected by the song
My goal was to make the drums as steady and reliable as possible so that I wouldn’t get distracted whilst performing
When it is just me, the click and the song in my head, I can play almost robotic
In fact, One of the reasons I wear shades onscreen is because I was playing a lot of times with my eyes closed (the bass too)

Speaking of the bass, I have to admit that I don’t spend as much practice time learning the bass because I wanna get things finished quickly
I’d rather throw away a ton of bad takes than wasting that time with the camera off, so I just learned the basics and kept playing until I got a good take
The great thing about this is that I still have the original raw drum recordings and I can go back any time I like to re-record and edit in a new bass part (although I’m planning yet another round of completely new videos after I buy new lighting gear, so I might just skip it and wait for the next round)
This was the year I got my new “Dee Dee” style bass
It is a white “P” bass with a black pickguard but you could be picky and say it isn’t authentic because it has an extra pickup and it is a Squier but only real nerd would concentrate on that

I picked up plenty of last minute gigs and even booked a couple in advance but my live performances continued to be mostly with Sedated
I was drilling the drum parts every day as well with added time spent refining my technique and building up speed/endurance on the drum pad
This resulted in me overdoing it and I ended up straining my elbow
I couldn’t afford to go to an orthopedic Dr so I went to a chiropractor
He said that it didn’t feel like I did any serious damage and did his thing on my elbow
The conclusion is not that playing drums caused it but 8th notes at 200 BPM with no variance is what caused the problems
This meant I had to quit Sedated so my last show was in September
It has been three months and I have played the drums sparingly
There is nowhere near the amount of discomfort (I hesitate to call it pain) but I really need to see a real orthopedic doctor so that I can know for sure what is medically wrong with my arm

One thing that has worked out for me this year is busking
I had quite a few night out on the street and I played for up to 4 hours per night
This has given me endurance and the confidence to tackle the Live Karaoke concept
I know I can host a 3 to 4 hour karaoke night because I have done it on the street under much more difficult situations
Busking also helps you with your attitude because you don’t get so hung up on being the center of attention and you can just zone out and play the set

I got a pretty cool job working catering for a BBQ joint and am steadily paying off my credit card whilst saving up for a more reliable touring vehicle
My dream vehicle would be one of those Transit type vans but I think I am going to have to take a less expensive route and find a reliable mini van that I can gut and convert

As far as equipment goes, I started out using a headset mic but had to accept that it sounded like poop
I like the mobility but I have to go with a regular mic on a stand for now
I have 90% of the equipment needed for tour and recently upgraded my video screen setup from the old roll down classroom style screen to one that is larger and capable of rear projection
The material is white spandex and I built a PVC frame/stand that can be broken down to more compact sizes for easier transport and storage

At the present, I am looking to travel from Dallas to Minneapolis to play a short tour and am in the process of gathering data
March 2018 is my goal so stay tuned for more info!

All in all, I worked my ass off to shake the bugs out of this concept and I think I am close to getting it just right
Some of the lessons learned were minute like fine tuning my green screen technique and some of theme were momentous like learning when to quit fine tuning something and going back to scratch
Very soon, I will have approximately 50 songs on my set list or for Live Karaoke
I really believe in this concept can work because I have eliminated so much overhead that touring will be so much easier

First and foremost, I will be finalizing the multi-track videos for the 50 song set list then I will try to expand that number as much as possible
I plan to buy better lights for my green screen sessions because I am not at all happy with the quality of my current videos
The audio is just fine, so I don’t have to worry about that

Short term plans are to book out of town gigs as much as possible
My current vehicle is in decent shape and I can probably make it to gigs within a few hundred miles

Medium term plans involve me making one to two week excursions
Maybe I will try to busk in New York City

Long term will be national and international touring
I have made quite a few Ramones Fans/Friends on social media and want to go meet them
The biggest surprise is that I have had at least a hundred of them contact me from South America
I have always wanted to play Japan or Europe but have never really considered places like Argentina or Brasil
The Ramones are gods down there and I think I could do very well there

Thank you to all of my Ramones buddies
You have given me moral support and I hope to play for you soon
See ya in 2018
Rocky the Ramone

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