Continuing Work on Black’s Backbone

The Black’s Backbone album continues forward.  With three tracks left on a 16 track album it’s a great deal closer than it was a month ago.  Check out the album check list notes below.

Updated album notes for the Black's Backbone album - Spiral World!

Updated album notes for the Black’s Backbone album – Spiral World!

More green = good!  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

In other news the Bleep Blip Bloop Re-mix Competition is complete!  We’ll be announcing the winner soon.  Thank you from the REB Records team to all those who submitted.

Re-mix competition!

Re-mix competition Complete!

REB Records update

Bleep Blip Bloop Re-mix contest is complete.  We got a lot of great feedback and some awesome tracks from remixes of the Black’s Backbone track, “Bleep Blip Bloop” over the past couple months.  Thank you!  with over 65 downloads it was pretty cool to see the various ways that people took the track and ran with it.

Re-mix competition!

Re-mix competition!

For REB Records this was a first and we’re planning to do more.  The Black’s Backbone album is coming around the final bend of production.  Albums looking like fifteen tracks… Here you can check out the notes from the production meeting last night.

The order above is not the final order for the album, but we're pretty sure that these are the fifteen tracks that will be on the final album. There are four that really still need work,

The order above is not the final order for the album, but we’re pretty sure that these are the fifteen tracks that will be on the final album. There are four that really still need work,

The REB Records’ facebook page has been pretty active the past couple months and if you’ve missed it so has the Sully and Theft to the Gallows team.

Projects currently in deep production:

Black’s Backbone:  A mash of modern production and intelligent thought that features Harmonie Phoenix and Blizzle as well as instrumentals.

Tarek 22: Studio album with influences from around the world accompanying the powerful lyrics of Tarek 22 and Sully, with vocals from a wide variety of artists to back up Tarek 22.  Check out the first release in the video below.

Tarek 22: Live album in the early stages of production with a great band lined up the songs are still being written, but man there are some hellagood grooves.

RyanWorkingInTheDark TarekAtTheSpace

Harmonie Phoenix on WHPK 88.5 Live

Rocking with Derrick da Deacon on WHPK Live!


A great shot with DJ DeRon and DJ Derrick da Deacon.

A great shot with DJ DeRon and DJ Derrick da Deacon.



A whole lot going on

We’ve been busy the past couple months behind the scenes at REB Records.  Working with K.Joy/Harmonie Phoenix, Tarek 22, Theft to the Gallows, Black’s Backbone and several DJ in and around Chicago.

With a new compilation album coming out in the next six weeks (fingers crossed) REB has been on a couple radio interviews: WHPK hosted by DJ Derrick da Deacon, and yesterday on the TP Live Show with TP Corleone.  You can see the amazing collection of vinyl below.


Harmonie Phoenix vocal edits

Working on some vocal editing for Harmonie Phoenix REB Records.  This week has been crazy with over 50 hours of production work between Monday and Thursday,  Radio interviews, discussions with some great producers and DJs, from Chicago to Atlanta to South Africa!  The whole team has been working hard.   Here’s a little behind the scenes look at “Girl Boy Panic” production.  To be released on the REB Records compilation album “Unrestricted.”



Thoughts on equipment

SSLWe’ve been going through a lot of interesting discussions and learning experiences over the past several months.  One that stands out is the purchase of equipment, that leads to higher quality art.

There’s a trade off between quality of equipment, durability, and cost.  Sometimes used equipment in good condition is perfrect, other times new equipment is important.  For example we recently picked up a used Allen & Heath GL2200 Series console, which has 24 channels with direct outs.  This thing is in mint condition, everything works, and being an A&H it will last abuse both on the road or in the studio.  Yes it would be very cool to have an SSL AWS 948 (god would that be great) but the cost difference was (literally) 199.85 TIMES more expensive… (The AWS 948 new is $99,925)


Allen & Heath GL2200

So in this case the used option for does what the studio needs and makes sense.

On the other side of this equation are microphones, which are generally something that we try to purchase new, as the frequency response and output of a Neumann KM184 that’s spent 4 hours a day for 8 years over a drum set is probably going to be somewhat different than the output of a new microphone or one that has only been used on strings.

Microphones have a very thin diaphram that is stressed when pressure waves push and pull on it.  Like a drum head gets worn out, the wear on the diaphram can alter the sound of the microphone over time.  Another cosideration is the dust that builds up on diaphrams, especially condenser microphones that are continually sent phantom power, which increases the mass of the diaphram and thus reduces the ability to accurately react to high frequency.



How long it has been

Well it has been a while.  I mean, seriously, like months.  That doesn’t mean that Sully and I and the rest of the REB team hasn’t been moving forward, it’s just been a time of subtle movements and progress.  Building relationships and figuring out new projects.

Current projects include:

New tracks form Theft to the Gallows, being put together to be played live by the end of the summer, as well as official release of the “First Knot” album!

Tarek22 is in full swing, with 9 tracks outlined and written in the last couple weeks.

We’ve also begun work on a musical with a working title of “Button.”  Keeping this under wraps currently as we work out the details of production, writing, scripting, and the creative process are on their journey.

The website should be updated soon as well.


So there is a lot going on and we’re all working hard to keep creating and working with creative people.



Micro Music Mash at the Dunes. Poster finished.

It took a while, and several reiterations, but finally got this completed.




Should be an awesome show!

The MMM poster with the “micro-feature”

Some serious thought went into this idea; “what do you call a featured artist in the opening slot without taking away from the ‘feature’ main act?”  For the hosts of the MMM (Theft to the Gallows) this is an important concept as this idea is going to be a steady part to the show.  For the April 23rd show we’ve booked Stolie!  A very talented songwriter and artist that brings something unique and refreshing to the Chicago Music Scene.  Check out some of her work here.

Some options were “micro-feature,” “mini-feature,” “featurette,” with and without the hyphen… anyway the point is at this point it is “micro-feature” which lines up with the name of the series and allows “featured” to still have its importance for the headlining act.

Here’s the poster.


Micro Music Mash – Videos from April 9th

The first MMM went well.  Theft to the Gallows hosted and got a great response and Terrible Spaceship also rocked as the headliner.  Some fun unexpected things were planned, and this is something TTTG is hoping to bring to every show.  Here are a couple videos from the show of TTTG.

and here is another of their parody performance of the awesome track “Geek in the Pink” by Jason Mraz.  Keeping things duct-tape, spit, and gum, yet well written, thought out and entertaining is a hard line to play, but TTTG is actively working to do this.


The Stage Design for Theft to the Gallows

Sully and I have been working to put together the stage design for TttG for several months.  We have the cool sign: Theft to the Gallows Headboard2

We have some cool music:


We have a great concert that we’re hosting coming up:

We have a sweet venue:

Some sweet equipment:

And Now we have a state-of-the-art stage:


New TttG song – El Half Asso!

New track from Theft to the Gallows completed last night, most aggressive to date!  Will be up on the TttG Tracks page in the next week, we snuck it on the blog early.Theftlogo2

Micro Music Mash update – Gorilla Tango Theater

REB Records is confirmed for shows on April 9th and 23rd at Gorilla Tango theater in Buck town.  Gorilla Tango is a black box style theater at 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago.  It is known for off the beat plays and hilarious burlesque shows which can be seen pretty much every weekend.

With Gorilla Tango’s help REB Records is planning a series of shows that are highly theatrical and entertaining, but that focus on bands and music.  Like Austin City Limits or CBGB’s in NY the shows will feature interesting acts and the audience will really get to hear and watch these acts perform.  It’s not a bar (though there will be beer,) and it’s not a formal concert.  We’re excited to be creating something that will hopefully become a meaningful part of the Chicago music scene.

– REB Records

Moving forward with the Micro Music Mash!

REB Records has been working hard to put together a residency style performance and the first steps are finally falling into place, (still waiting full confirmation, so maybe I’m jumping the gun a little.)  We are excited to be doing a set of two shows at Gorilla Tango at 1919 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL on April 9th and April 23rd!

On a business note the idea is to see how the space works, if marketing brings in new demographic then “current fans” and if we as performers can put on a great show together.  The performers currently booked are Theft to the Gallows and Terrible Spaceship.  These two groups are polar opposites in stage presence with Terrible Spaceship rocking labcoats, synths, lights, video; techno-soul music, while Theft to the Gallows wraps themselves in t-shirts and ducktape, plays acoustic, and builds some stuff from scraps; you’ll have to see it to see it!.  Really just check out the music, these groups are both doing some unique and interesting music and put on super interesting shows.

If these first two shows go well and the kinks get worked out, we will be looking to begin a residency in the summer.  Every other week or so.  What we are doing is transplanting a band based musical show into a musical theater or comedie theater business model.  Meaning there is a set venue (think of Million Dollar Quartet at Apollo or Second City here in Chicago) that generates traction over time as the word gets out.

The current model for bands is to go play a whole bunch of gigs all over the place, mainly at bars where people are sort of paying attention, then after doing a couple dozen shows (translate to hundreds of hours of work) booking as an opener to a larger band, or booking a larger venue.  There are several issues with this method.  First is that ninety percent (I’m making numbers up – and being conservative) will never play 24+ shows in a meaningful time frame to generate a fan base that will then actually pay for that larger gig.  Secondly once you hit a certain age – around 27? or so – the rock band local tour life style loses its appeal.  The bass player starts talking about what carpet they’re putting in their condo this weekend, or the drummer can only rehearse for 1 hour 13 minutes on Thursday evening starting at 7:04 PM.  Life starts to get in the way.

Great musicians and bands stop playing, music becomes something that “I did in college” or that you gear up for once or twice a year to rock out in front of your friends and coworkers.  This is not necessarily due to a lack of commitment (though there are cases where it is completely that.)  The expected route described above does not compliment having a house, family, pet, job, or anything that warrants waking up before 1:00 PM.  Now I would argue that someone could do musical theater, local theater, even be in a local or professional symphony (in which I have several family members) and because there is a structured schedule, at a set location, with a committed audience and various means of funding, can still work a day job, and have a pet; and a life.

The point is not to become famous or make a bunch of money (we would love to break even since running a record label and recording does cost thousands of dollars); it is to perform, entertain, enhance a community, pursue creative outlets and have some fun.  This is what the Micro Music Mash is about.  REB is extremely excited that it is happening and maybe you will be there!

– REB Records

Studio Walkthrough – Doors and Windows added

This video is a walk through of the preliminary studio design for REB Records. Console is a 48 channel SSL Duality SE, a console that we’ve worked with at another studio and have enjoyed.

While placing doors, which are 3′ 4″ wide and 6′ 10 1/2″ tall (The more generic ones going to the bathroom and the HVAC are only 3′ wide,) it became apparent that there really is not enough space for a sliding door as seen in many studios between the main tracking room and the Isolation booth. So the double door method is used. The basic idea is that the lounge/Sound lock/bathroom are all connected on the bottom right (if the tracking room is the “top”) of the studio making the access between these rooms relatively easy. The tracking room is then connected to the Iso booth – which is the only way to get to the storage closet and behind that, (at the lower left) is the HVAC closet.  There are drawbacks to having, for example, double doors going into the Isolation booth.  They take up significant space – a sliding door does not take up physical floor space in either of the two rooms that it connects, swinging doors do… This and hundreds of other questions from funding to building to equipment to sight lines to things we haven’t thought about are being considered and debated.  Below is some explanation of the door situation.

The reason for only one door to the control room is two fold. First, it creates the best isolation between the control room and all the other spaces. There is only one door to the control room and it goes into a room that does not have a door to the outside so there would be very little bleed into the main mixing area. Secondly, It provides the most amount of wall space for use. Anytime a door is added basically a 8 to 12 square foot amount of space is taken away depending if the door goes out from the room or into the room. So the doors on the vertical hallways are all at the long end of the rooms where there they potentially leave more room for equipment and gear along the walls.

Design will continue in the next couple weeks, adding textures, equipment, instruments, acoustic treatment and eventually lighting and a design for the ceiling and roof.

Basic Studio Design layout

This is a design for a studio that Sully and I are building for REB Records in 2014.  It’s just a layout; doors, windows, assets, and textures will be added in the next week or so.

There are still some basic issues with the walls that need to be worked out, but it has all of the key components for a studio that REB Records would need.  Those include

A semi large tracking room (In this case it is 26′ x 36′)

A large control room that is also a chief creative space.  (28′ x ~20′)

A Sound lock between the control and tracking rooms

An isolation both (6′ x 8′)

A room for HVAC stuff

A small lounge/kitchen

Storage space – In this design there could be 3 possible storage closets.

A  bathroom space.

Having all of these features would definitely make an amazing space to work and create, and as the design continues it is exciting to see a physical manifestation of much discussed ideas!

SketchUp Basic Studio Animation

REB Records is looking at properties and the possibility of building a studio.  This is a design that was more for the practice of using Google SketchUp then for the actual design of the space.  The walls are 4″ thick and the total floor area is 30′ x 40′ so square footage is 1200 sq ft.  This is basically a glorified garage style set up, something that would be feasible to build from the ground up using Everest , Owsinski/Moody, and/or Gervais books.  (I’ll add links in a bit.)

Erg… Speed of Business – The Sheet Method

It moves… slowly.  When it is going well it feels like things are happening quickly, it is exciting, there is motion and phone calls and emails flying around.  That is fun.  When it is going slowly, well it feel indefinitely slow.  Not like slow motion, but more like 2001 Space Odyssey.  Things are happening, but, what is in the right direction?  What is good?  What is bad?  What do you have control over?  Each is ambiguous.

Added to this is The List or “The Sheet Method,” as I’ve had students call it.  The List is a sheet of paper tucked in my pocket each day.  On it are written all of the small tasks that I need to get done.  Not necessarily done today, but done at some point in the near future, day, week or month.  It is actually titled “Things I get to do!” list, which puts quite a different spin on the dozens of tasks, distractions, emails, phone calls, grading of paper, writing of assignments, mixing of tracks, writing out lead sheets for Theft to the Gallows stuff, holiday gift ideas, (yes these are all on the current sheet) that slowly fill up The List each week.

The list serves two primary purposes.  First it allows me to write down distractions, so that they do not pull attention away from the tasks at hand.  This means that phone calls that can be made while grabbing lunch, or sitting in traffic aren’t made while I should be mixing or hanging out with family.  Things like that.

Secondly it means that things that need to get done, get done.  When it’s written down the task is not floating around in my head, to be forgotten or shoved around when another more inflated, muscular, testosterone player comes over to the bench.  It’s still there, maybe at the end of the bench, but not forgotten.

If things don’t need to be on the list, they don’t make it onto next weeks list – “clean apartment for Thanksgiving,” is not on the list for the 2nd week of December, even if it didn’t get completed.

The awesome side of this is that at the end of the day, the long term direction is being shaped and honed, little by little, every day.  REB Records, the Theft to the Gallows

project, The Cleft Way, trumpet, drums, guitar each get love.  It is not just talk it is action, even if the action is difficult to see from such a close perspective.

Criss Angel was on in the background the other day, and made an aside that really drilled home the idea.  He said “It took me 18 years to become an overnight success.”  Of course dozens of people have said very similar statements, but it still puts perspective on REB Records as only being one year old.  It’s a baby and the development may be a little hard to quantify, definitely hard to financially analyze, but it is happening.

In the mean time it’s fun and fulfilling, and that is a pretty awesome.

– Ryan

The Sheet Method


Technology and DAWs

The market for audio based computer programs is competitive, and there has been one standard; Pro Tools.  This program has been around for a while, and has grown up with the film and music industries during the last 20 years.  Over the last ten years or so other programs have become major competitors.

For anyone in to audio production the choice can be daunting; do you go with Pro Tools, or (after reading about the ridiculous install process in PT 10-11) choose something like Logic (only on Mac computers,) or go with Ableton (different design altogether) or Reaper, Studio One, Cubase, Nuendo, Sony Vegas, MixCraft, Garage Band, Samplitude, Digital Performer, Cakewalk Sonar, FL Studio Pro, or even something like ReNoise or Reason.

Each of these are different, and have their own points that may or may not be better than others.  But really no ones has the time to try them all.  A place that actually has some work behind their opinions and would allow the consumer to make a somewhat informed decision would be Sound On Sound magazine, which also has an online publication.  They do reviews of many different DAWs each month, with some pretty good depth and detailed analysis.

The arguments often come down to what someone has used, or what someone else has said about the lack of features in a program that they’ve never used.  Having taught for six years it seems that anyone who has become somewhat proficient at one DAW seems to feel they have a highly respected opinion on all the options out there.

In reality asking a lot of questions, reading a lot of material, and watching tutorials about which fits ones needs of production is the best way to find a result.  There are a couple keep points that might make sense to take into account.

For example are you going to be mainly recording live instruments?  Is it going to be an ITB production studio?  Are you looking to do audio restoration?  What about foley work and sound for movies or TV shows?  Or doing ADR, or voice over work for commercials.  Scoring? Arranging?  Figure out exactly what you’re main output will be.  It’s at least a place to start!

– Ryan

ADR – Automated Dialog Replacement

DAW – Digital Audio Workstation

ITB – In the Box

Theft to the Gallows at The Heartland Cafe


Theft to the Gallows went out to do their first open mic style performance last night.  One song only; they chose “Lucky to Love Me.”  The Heartland Cafe is a cool restaurant on the north side of Chicago that has hosted an open mic on Wednesdays for 25 (or maybe it’s 26) years.  This was the anniversary and it was also Halloween, so there were costumes and congratulations.

Theft to the Gallows Headboard2

This is Lucky to Love Me – not the version from Heartland, but similar – Acoustic, one take.

Theft to the Gallows came up on stage around 10:40 PM, and opted not to use a microphone.  After a rousing “Welcome!” chant thing, that is given to new participants in the open mic, Theft to the Gallows went into Lucky to Love Me.  BB Mayes nailed some moves why Ryan took the opening lead, and then, having gotten the jitters out, BB Mayes rocked the crowd going into the first chorus.  Pointing, gesturing, and singing to the intently listening audience, (they had to listen intently because there was no amplification) it was a fun performance that continually picked up temp.  A three minute song ended up being about 2:30!

Looking forward to the next show.

– Ryan (Theft to the Gallows)


First Performance for Theft to the Gallows

Theft to the Gallows played their first show.  It was awesome, but not at all in the way that was planned.  The performance was really just a workshop for the new songs, and it was unexpectedly cancelled.  Dang!  So, the evening was open, but looking for some victim on which to lay those sweet sounds, calls were made, and friends having drinks were found nearby.  A captive audience!

Buy em’ some drinks, some onion rings, chit chat, and before you know it the guitar is out.  Right there on the street we’re doing a five song set.  People stopped and watched, couple of em’ clapped.  It was a great way to play!

– Theft to the Gallows (Ryan)


Momentum seems to be something that is very hard to explain, even harder to see from the outside.  It is something that you feel, specifically when you are connected to it.  That connection comes not from a super clearly defined goal, though that may help, but rather from the pursuit of something that has meaning.

The journey starts with planning and such, but at some point you have to start driving.  Once the driving begins there are obstacles, there are plateaus, there are down and up hills, none of which can be planned for perfectly.  And interestingly the first 900 miles seem to be driven in a tube by ones self.  The tube has pinpricks through people can see that something is moving inside.  People peer in, some say “oh, look at that.  Very interesting.” others say “Hmmm, that’s a nice hobby.” Once in a while it’s “I remember when I to had dreams, good luck,” and then on occasion “Hey, I’d be interested in be involved in that!”  sometimes followed by “pay?” and in the rarest occasion “I’m in! What can I do?”

The last 100 miles are where people will say “Oh, I knew that would be successful,” or “What luck!” and often mean this in all sincerity.  The holes in the tube grow and it is easier to see inside.  Eventually they grow larger so that there is more visibility then shade, and melt, leaving the a trailing coattail upon which some may try to jump.  We’ll see if we get there, knowing that this will happen is assuring that it will not.  The journey is the goal.

Those who are on the journey understand what is happening; can feel the ball rolling, and while understanding is not fully under control or explainable, know that the trip is in progress, and are probably having fun doing it.  This journey has begun for REB and those working with it.  This is what life is about.  This is passion mixed with action.  I hope this feeling will continue to last and will grow.

– Ryan

Theft to the Gallows

Theft to the Gallows has been working hard on putting together some acoustic versions of their tracks in production.  The idea being to go out and perform them live at small venues, open mics, and songwriters showcases to work on their chops as a group.  Today they recorded some of these, just one take through live.  Check em out!

The hackers

If you’ve looked around this web site lately it has been changing significantly; daily.  One day you may find that it went to a “Penis Enlargement can be yours for only $.22 a day!” site.  Other times it was blank, or a WordPress default page, or “This page cannot be found, how embarrassing” message.  Basically a team (yes really, they have call names and a facebook page, and put their “trophies” – sites that they’ve hacked – up on display) decided that our fledgling site was one to fuck with.  Thanks guys.

How do grown ass people think this is fun?  Or useful, or in any way beneficial?  Here we are, a self-funded record label working to really help artists, trying to talk to investors, and now we have two months of fixing and updating,  learning HTML, talking to professional web developers, and tech support.  I understand that this security concept is important, but it’s kind of like poisoning someone’s food to get them to buy/use health care… I get the idea that people need to be aware of the failures in their web design so that “bad” things don’t happen – But then you are the bad thing.  Like a real life video game, but playing with people’s lively hoods and pursuits, and career’s – and to what end?

Anyway, I think that things are in fact back to being secure.  Passwords are way more difficult, updates have been made, the entire code was deleted and rebuilt.  All plug-ins reinstalled.  The posts have been re-uploaded, mainly because it’s beneficial to feel that all of the work in the past has meaning.  Those post represent thousands of hours of creative time and hundreds of hours of business time.

So REB is moving forward again in the digital domain.  We should have all the albums back up  (they’re still hanging on which we’re using as a host for this site,) by the end of the weekend.  Art work is uploaded to the databases, and needs to be implemented back on to the web site.

And I will say I have learned a lot.