The Rockula Update- A small slice of Validation

I was making final preparations for the San Antonio Loop Festival and my anxiety was creating reasons why I shouldn’t be going
First and foremost is money
I was literally spending money I didn’t have with a zero balance in my bank and a credit card
It is very lucky that my sister has allowed me to use her Mini Cooper for the trip because my other option is a van with terrible mileage
There was no guarantee of any kind of pay and I don’t have any kind of merch to sell
I was not even sure if I would have a place to stay

So why did I go?

I contacted Noah Peterson who ran the SA Loop fest and asked him to consider me
He wrote back that I wasn’t exactly conforming to the official parameters of the festival but he thought I was interesting enough to merit a spot so he asked me to perform
For the un-initiated, “Looping” is a term used to describe a technique where you play an instrument into a looping pedal or other device and then layer multiple lines on top of each other and/or soloing
The difficulty in looping is anticipating your “Start and End Point” in order to make the loop sound as seamless as possible
I don’t do anything like that, in fact I do just the opposite
I take pre-recorded loops and trigger them in real time, which is difficult in itself because both rely on the timing of the operator to make it fit together and run smoothly
Although looping is not bound to one specific genre or instrument, it is still a very specific genre
And it is nice to see someone bend the rules in order to expose people to new concepts and ideas

After busting my ass for nearly a decade working on this concept, I have finally been assured that what I do is valid by someone who frequently travels to loop festivals and has organized his own
I had just about given up on PyroPlasticFlow because it was so physically and emotionally taxing
Since 2005, I have been hauling drums, guitars, basses, electronic equipment, video equipment and PA speakers into tiny clubs and setting it up by myself hours before the performance
Only to perform for a few of my friends and a couple of people from the other bands
I have had a couple of bright spots but, for the most part, the lack of interest has always weighed heavily upon me and wore me down over the years
I was having some success playing with other people and I find that my current situation with GIRL is going very well
San Antonio could very easily not have happened because of all of the effort and expense it would take
Oh yeah, did I mention that I lost most of my data from my sampler because the card won’t read?

So, yeah, I’m all proud that I am going to work on my live set a week or so earlier than planned because I caught myself getting too complacent
I could (and have) played these songs in the dark because of the years spent drilling the material but I was going to be ready early
That’s when the Roland SPDS wouldn’t read my card
This meant that I had to re-create all of the loops that I would be using in the show
Luckily, most of the individual notes I used to create the loops are on the small internal hard drive
This put me in a bit of a panic and I started to have anxiety but things fell right into place
These beats and samples come from my internal clock so it was a fairly quick process
After sitting at the drums and triggering them in real time, I was satisfied that they would fit together live
I also decided to omit a chunk of my performance because it is an all ages show and there is some adult content

A full tank of gas in the Mini Cooper was only $40
I packed up and headed South
The trip seemed a breeze and I was in San Antonio before I knew it
As I unpacked my gear, I noticed that I forgot my VGA cable and the sheet I was going to begrudgingly have to use as a screen
Thankfully, I had plenty of time to burn and an extremely fuel efficient vehicle, so I explored a part of the city I have not seen yet (Alamo Heights) and the strip beyond
That’s where I found a Goodwill store and a cheap sheet
The VGA cable was a different matter and I scoured every pawn shop and video game store in the area (they tend to have loose cables) and Wal Mart was out, so I had to resort to Radio Shack
I got back and started getting ready for the show

I had wondered if I would fit in with the lineup because I wasn’t technically a “Live Looper” but there was a diverse group of artists from pure loopers to rapper and DJs
I was really impressed by Noah Peterson who layered stomps, claps, scatting vocals and sax into New Orleans style Jazz
Even though I had downsized my rig, I still had a lot to set up
Everyone could sense the anxiety in my urgency, the sound guy and Noah kept assuring me that I had all the time I needed to set up
My set started off sketchy when the SPDS mis-triggered but no one noticed
The rest of the set went fairly well
Afterwards, many of the artists came up to me and said that they had never seen anyone do what I do
This is a fact that surprised me, especially coming from Noah because he travels all over the country and abroad performing at these types of events
I had a very nice drive back to Dallas and was happy with the fact that a full tank of gas in the Mini lasted from Dallas to San Antonio (plus a couple of laps around the city) and back to Austin again before I needed to fill up again
It was nice to return the car with a little over 1/2 a tank

This would be the end of the story but I was contacted a few days later by one of the artist from the Loop fest named K Beeta with an offer to fill a vacant slot at a gig at the Liquid Lounge
My friend Steven is interested in PyroPlasticFlow and wanted to help me set up so that he can understand better what I am doing
The other artists were DJs and rappers so I had plenty of room
I decided that this would be a perfect opportunity to take the Molecules Drums out for a spin
Setup was a breeze thanks to Steven and the set went like clockwork
It was kind of a drag that the turnout was sparse but my guitar player in GIRL, Judy and he wife showed up and even took video!
This has given me a boost in my outlook on things
It also caused me to start thinking about  something else

I have participated in lots of negative thought processes in the past but the one thing I tried very hard not to fall  into was the idea that “people just aren’t advanced enough to understand what I’m doing” which really means “everyone is dumb and they don’t get me”
That type of thinking is a trap that will suck all of the future out of your perception of life
You end up blaming everyone else for your failure to achieve any popular success
But what if part of it is actually true?
You cannot assume that you are the only person with an idea
By the very nature of the fact that my main piece of equipment (the Roland SPDS) has been around for a long time now, means that there have to be plenty of equally talented and creative people out there doing what I do
And yet I keep hearing from people who are traveling the country doing this type of performance that what I do is rare
My anxiety has always been fueled by the fear that I have squandered my opportunity to be unique by nature of being one of the first
I cannot allow myself such an egocentric attitude but I can allow myself to realize that time has not yet passed me by and neither have the opportunities

More projects in the works as we speak
There’s a future ahead of me for the first time in a long time and I hope to keep the momentum rolling


3 thoughts on “The Rockula Update- A small slice of Validation”

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