Jagged Spiral Presents – Fire And Dice

Album Cover for Jagged Spiral's Fire And Dice - Artwork by J. S. Johnson
Album Cover for Jagged Spiral's Fire And Dice - Artwork by J. S. Johnson

Cover Art for Jagged Spiral’s second album, Fire and Dice. Artwork by J.S. Johnson.

Jagged Spiral’s Second Studio Album is Finished

In 2007, Josh, Colin and I debuted our ‘Northern Rock’ Concept Album – Days From Evil – releasing the mp3s online for free between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2007…

…on 11 July 2008 the Days From Evil CD Release Party was held at Club Underground…

…then we disappeared.

I’ll bet you’re wondering, was it jail or rehab? I’ll give you a hint:

We can’t afford rehab.

The Bureau of Morality defined our music as a weapon of mass destruction, subject to the Homeland Security Act we were classified as terrorists. Not political ones, mind you. More like spiritual/psychological terrorists.

But it turns out the computers in the Hennepin Country Detention Center are not too shabby. Plus, they have high-speed internet. So after a refreshing waterboarding, a couple years of good behavior, a brisk cavity search, and a couple login password resets, I’m finally able to share with you some New Jagged Spiral News:

The long-awaited second album from hard-dark-metal-art-rock-whatever band Jagged Spiral is finished!

It’s called Fire and Dice, and it will redefine the genre of Northern Rock. (We can do that since we created the genre.) It is nothing less than epic. If the Valkyrie had i-pods, they would listen to this album as they rode Pegasi, swooping down on the battlefield to drag the fallen heroes off to Valhalla.

What’s It Sound Like?

Fire and Dice sounds like an unlubricated orgy of Black Sabbath, Foo Fighters and Tool. Being shot to death. On an aircraft carrier.  Towed by a space shuttle. Crashing into a planet. Made of enriched uranium. Which explodes.

Fire and Dice makes The Big Bang that gave birth to our universe sound like Coldplay.

Or if you like, here’s the old marketing copy, which is still fairly accurate:

…Angry. Progressive. Conceptual. Epic. Brazen. Dark. Metallic. Since no other genres suffice, they have decided to declare a new genre of music: ‘Northern Rock’. Rough as a serrated edge. Cold and slick as black ice. The harsh brutality of Gothic Hard Rock merged with ambiance, depth, and groove, then left out in the rain to corrode into something completely unique.

Everything you loved about Days From Evil, only more so. But there’s no concept this time. At least, not any intentional ones. If you really miss it, just pretend each song is a mini-concept-album.

Release Date – 21 Dec 2013

Saturday, December 21st is the Winter Solstice. On that day, the sun will hide away from this side of the world, giving us the longest night of the year. A fitting time to release something as dark and cold as Fire and Dice.

There is no public “release party.” Consider it a virtual online thing, so feel free to get crunked in the comfort of your own home while downloading/listening and don’t forget to share it with your real-world friends and your facebook “friends” since in case I forgot to mention it, Fire and Dice is absolutely…

Free

Jagged Spiral’s music transcends materialistic/capitalistic nonsense. Keep your money. Tell your friends, write a blog post review, or share your enthusiasm on social media instead.

Unless, of course, your name is Diablo Cody and you want to use our music in your movie score, video game soundtrack, or dubstep remix. We still might let you use our music for free, but you have to get permission for commercial use.

Likewise, if you want a physical CD, you’d have to buy it, but I’m not sure why you would. Download all the tracks for free, and burn them to a disk yourself.

Fire and Dice on Bandcamp – To download, simply click the “Buy Now” button and add in a price of $0.00.

Hope you like it.

-Zero

Jagged Spiral’s Second Album Is Named and Graphiced

“Graphiced”? Is that a word? “Graphicized”? “Engraphicated”?

Regardless, what has been generically known as “Album 2” and code-named “Ten Easy Ways To Kill Yourself” is another major step closer to completion. The mastered version of the album is back from the studio, and the track list is set. Graphics for the cd insert are being reviewed, and the album has an official name.

At this point, our band manager is allowing me to answer the following burning questions:

What’s The New Album Title?

Fire And Dice

The marketing focus groups voted down the original working title, “Ten Easy Ways To Kill Yourself”.

How Many Songs? What’s The Track Listing?

  1. Invasion
  2. Lament (part i)
  3. Suffer
  4. Horrorcloud
  5. Push Me
  6. Prophet
  7. Reset
  8. Blood on the Velvet
  9. Fire and Dice
  10. God Hates Emo

How Many People Were Killed In The Making Of This Album?

None that you will miss.

Can We Have A Sneak-Peek At The Album Cover?

Mmmm…. I suppose. But keep in mind, this is work in progress. Subject to change and all that.

Click on the picture below to see the full graphic:

Jagged Spiral Album Cover Rough for Fire And Dice

Coolness, eh? Thanks to J. Stuart Johnson for the awesome artwork. jstuartj.com.

When, Oh, When In The Name Of [Insert Deity Here] Will This Album Be Finished?

No official release date yet. If the stars are right, a 2013 release date might not be out of the question. Stay tuned here for updates.

CD Release Party?

Not likely, unless you’re going to coordinate it. Tell us when to show up, and we’ll be there.

-Zero

Album 2 loading… please wait…

Jagged Spiral can’t be accused of rushing to put something out before its time. Case in point is our long-awaited second album that should be done in a timeline of weeks, not months or years.

The working title is “Ten Easy Ways To Kill Yourself” but I’m told that isn’t appropriate and needs to be changed. Right. If we worried about being “appropriate” we’d shitcan the whole fucking album. If you have a better title, drop it in the comments. In fact, if you have a better idea, come over to the studio and edit the photoshop file yourself.

Like Colin told me, “Keep your beard on.” I promise that if the world does end on 21 Dec, 2012, it won’t be because this album was delivered on time.

-Zero

Get a Drummer, or Get Off the Fucking Stage

Recently I attended the Best New Bands of 2010 at First Ave. One thing I couldn’t help noticing was the number of drummers replaced by fucking mac laptops. Now I know laptops are lighter, easier to work with, drink less (far less), and are more reliable (far more reliable) than real drummers.  But if that’s the case, why stop there? Aren’t laptops more reliable than any musician? So why not replace the bassist, guitarist, keyboardist and singer with laptops too!

In fact, you could replace them all with one laptop! Just think of all the advantages:

  • The show will take up very little space. No need for a stage! More space for people to stand, so you can sell more tickets!
  • All band members would arrive at the exact same time, ready to go.
  • The show will sound exactly like the mp3.
  • Cleanup is a snap.

But why stop with just the band? Computers are more reliable than anyone, so let’s replace the audience with computers too! Hell, just stick a laptop on the dancefloor, point its webcam at the laptop on the stage, and the benefits grow exponentially:

  • No more time wasted on getting ready for the show! The audience can enjoy the show in the comfort of their own homes wearing easy clothes!
  • Less fossil fuels wasted by all those people traveling to the club!
  • Drinks are much cheaper!
  • No more D.U.I.’s!

I think I’ve made my point. Get a real person to play the percussion, or get off the fucking stage. At least have someone pretend to be talented and trigger the sequencer. I saw Crystal Method live, and watching two fat guys turning knobs is about the least fun I’ve ever had at at live show. It’s a tiny step above a CD listening party, but at least there’s someone making the music in front of you.

Pressing Play onstage is fine… if you’re audience is blind and deaf. Otherwise, it sucks. I go to clubs to SEE artists make music. I go to shows to HEAR an original, immediate work of art. If I wanted to push play, I’d have saved the cover charge and pushed play on my mp3 player.

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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Jagged Spiral Recording Secrets – The Triple Hog

It doesn’t always happen that we have both a fun time in the studio and a productive time in the studio, although the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Case in point would be last night’s recording session. We were recording guitars and aside from a headache I got from laughing so much, I think we’ve locked in a great new method for recording massive guitar tone.

Colin has named it “The Triple Hog.” It’s really a hybrid of two recording techniques.

The first technique is one I discovered while watching Zach Wylde’s DVD of behind the scenes while recording Black Label Society’s The Order Of The Black. He does multi-layering of guitar tracks using multiple microphones on each layer, then he blends the layers together.

The second technique was a guitar recording tip Colin read in Mix magazine. Record two tracks of guitar, pan them right/left then a third clean track up the middle and barely audible.

Here’s what you get when you put them all together:

How to Record Massive Guitar Tone Using Jagged Spiral’s “Triple Hog” Method

First, get your guitar tone set up in the room the way you want it. Then mic one cone of the amp with at least two different microphone. Microphone selection and placement is an art form in itself and everyone has their preferences, but I used a Shure SM-57 and a MXL 990 (which you can get packaged with a 991 for dirt cheap.) The 990 is a vocal mic, but it has a nice, clear sound which mixed with the SM-57 well, not to mention it was the only other mic I had in the studio at the time. Mix and match. Try and listen. You might need to play with EQ, levels and placement of the microphones to get something you like. Just make sure to mic the same speaker cone with all the mics you use.

Now, record Guitar Take 1. You’ll end up with one track from each microphone. Pan all these tracks hard left.

Then record Guitar Take 2. Don’t change any settings and don’t move the mics. Have the guitarist play the take the same way they just did. Try to keep the second take tight as you can to the first take. Pan all these tracks hard right.

Now, turn off all distortion and effects in the guitar chain. Then record a third “clean” take. It will sound awful. You won’t like it. That’s OK, because you really won’t hear it when you’re done. You can probably use a single mic to record this clean track, but we used both. Either way, you get one more track for each microphone you’re using. Keep these tracks panned in the center.

When you’re done, the guitarist will be happy because half your project is made up of guitar tracks. You’re drummer will be pissed because there’s more guitar tracks for one guitar than were used to record the entire drum set. Its a good idea to have something on hand to calm everyone’s nerves. We used Newcastle.

Now it’s time to tame the hog.

The secret’s in the mix

Fade the clean tracks until they get lost beneath the left and right tracks, then bring them back up just enough to ‘glue’ the left and right tracks together. Mute and Unmute the clean tracks to hear the difference. You should hear a pulling together of the left and right tracks.

Bam, you’re a superstar! Make sure to double-check your finished product in mono.

You can try to cheat this method by cloning the guitar tracks and using effects like phasing or small delays on one side to get a wider sound. While this works, I think it sounds more processed and less organic than playing separate takes. The sound we get from the Triple Hog method sounds big, bright, and punchy, but not overprocessed.

You can use variations of this method. We previously recorded the left and right tracks as shown above, but panned them about 75% to each side, leaving some overlap, and we did not record a clean center track. This method gave us a nice sound, but we all agree the Triple Hog sounds better.  I’ve heard of using an acoustic guitar as the clean track, never tried it, but who knows? You could even use a synth or other instrument as the glue to pull the left and right tracks together. Whatever works, right? If you have ideas or suggestions, drop them in the comments below.

Bonus Recording Tip:

Six guitar tracks is a lot for a single guitar sound. Leveling and adjusting all those tracks can be a real time-suck. If you can do signal routing with your recording setup, I find it helps to move all the guitar tracks to output to a single bus, then send that bus to the master output. Then you can adjust effects, level, mute, solo, etc on that bus like it was a single guitar track.

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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Halloween 2010 with Jagged Spiral

Colin and Jess threw another top-notch Halloween Party this year. We had a great time, and I can’t wait to see the pix. Wish I’d had my camera. The Spiral was all on-hand and took a stab at a couple songs late in the evening, and being the soberest of the group at the time, I have several observations to make:

  1. I probably shouldn’t even pick up my bass unless I’ve had three alcoholic drinks.
  2. Colin probably shouldn’t pick up his guitar after thirteen alcoholic drinks.
  3. None of the band should pick up anything until everyone in the audience has had about thirty alcoholic drinks.
  4. We should only take requests for songs that we know. At the very least, songs that are completely finished.
  5. We should practice before playing an improvisational show.

Regardless, we slaughtered Invasion, Prophet, Horrorcloud and covered Sister of Mercy’s “Temple of Love”.

Quote of the night goes to Josh. While getting ready to play drums on the Rock Band game, Nirvana’s “About A Girl” came up as an option. His reply? “I don’t want to play Nirvana. I’m already in Nirvana.”

Second place quote goes to Saveau, who said, “You guys should always dress like that onstage. A pirate, a dark priest, and that guy from The Office.”

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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Jagged Spiral… in the Studio?

Ha, that’s rich. We’re always in the studio. Mostly because we aren’t allowed in many other places. Next, we’ll be bragging that we’re recording something. Here’s a tip… we’re always recording something. Song ideas, rough demos, XXX vids with the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders, covers of Bjork B-Sides…

The real news is what we recorded. We ran several test recordings of drums using different microphone configurations. We taped a credit card to the kick drum head, and ran the kick drum microphone through an overloaded tube preamp. Then we mixed, monitored, moved microphones and tried again, refining our drum sound as we went along.

It doesn’t sound like Slayer. It doesn’t sound like Metallica. Thank God.

It sounds like Jagged Spiral. Squared. The sound of the drums alone will probably get us on several lists:

  • City of Minneapolis – List of Known Disturbers of the Peace
  • Mix Magazine – List Of… Unique Ways To Record Drum Tracks
  • Alcoholics Anonymous – List of Reasons Not To Drink
  • Vita.mn – List Of The Best New Bands In Minnesota

You heard me. Anyway, our manager Sugar has given me permission to officially announce that Jagged Spiral has begun recording our second album. The working title is “Ten Easy Ways To Kill Yourself” but that title will likely change.

But don’t get yourself all worked up. We have the studio booked for a long time.

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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Jagged Spiral Live – Terminal Bar 29 Nov 08

All,

Hopefully you’ve realized The Tryptophan Is A Lie and your Thanksgiving Coma was all in your head…

Hopefully you were a kind and courteous consumer on “Black Friday” and let the other people merge on the roads, parking lots and shopping lines in front of you without giving them the finger…

Hopefully you’ll be able to put all the sleepiness, consumerism and poor driving skills behind you and come to the Terminal Bar in Minneapolis on Nov 29th, where Jagged Spiral will perform mostly live, along with our good and sober friends S.B.I.

$5 Cover, Music starts at 9, Jagged Spiral is not the first band, nor the last. We hope to see you there!

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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Jagged Spiral Concert – Terminal Bar Thur 24 Sept 09

First, a big Thanks to everyone who made it to the Terminal Bar last Saturday for a stellar performance all around.

The Terminal of course did a great job, although they could not have forseen that with S.B.I. involved and the fact that our show was sponsored by Jagermeister, their supplies of that particular resource would be quickly depleted.

Thanks to Yusef, our good friend and guitarist for the massive band Nothing Gained. Thanks much for flying over from England just for this event, and kicking axe on some great guitar. Thanks also to S.B.I. for lending us their lead singer for a song. Borrowing members from other bands is kind of like letting someone borrow your wife or girlfriend (or both,) except everyone’s watching which makes it even more awkward. But the show was, as they say, a smashing success.

Which is why we’ve been invited back to do it again!

Thursday 24 Sept 2009, Jagged Spiral takes the stage once more at The Terminal Bar in Minneapolis, MN. No additional band members this time (unless someone can play the bassline to Horrorcloud…) just pure, undiluted 3-piece Jagged Spiral.

Noise starts up at 9PM and Jagged Spiral plays first. Check the terminal bar’s website for other bands. I think there’s a cover, but even if there isn’t you really should slip your favorite band a fiver, or a Jag Bomb, or an I-Phone, or something.

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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