Laying foundation tracks for our brand new song for the Austin Sound Sampler compilation 2013.
via Instagram

Evolution of sharktronics

When I first started playing electronic music on stage (a little reminiscing here), USB was barely even a thing and my bandmates and I would cart obnoxious amounts of gear onstage to do our thing. It would usually take the entire time that the previous band was playing just to plug everything in, and a lot of it was old enough you wouldn’t find out it worked until you got on stage. Anybody who’s seen Sharks since we added electronics is probably not very surprised to hear this… I’m pretty sure even the elephant at Carousel was being choked by cables. But as we evolve, I’ve been taking advantage of different technology that I never thought would be relevant in a live acoustic-electric setting and I’m pretty stoked about the results.

We started off with Apple Mainstage and a large rack of gear including a biggish mixer, which then evolved to a keyboard stand with a smaller mixer than still won’t quite fit in an Instagram picture:


This is in addition to the computer and the keyboard that I use to play the “real” parts like piano on “Be My” and B3 organ on “Wrong Move.”

But as fun as it is to have external keyboards, sound toys like the Korg Monotron and Kaoss Pad, etc etc, I found the stuff being used the most were USB controllers, which don’t even require power (the computer powers them). So now the setup looks like this:



It fits on one level of a keyboard stand, it’s super playable and fun, and the only thing to plug into the wall is the computer.

For the nerds:

On the left is the Novation Launchpad. This launches “clips” in Ableton Live. Clips can be pre-recorded loops or MIDI notes, something I play live and loop right on the spot, or a snippet of recording from somewhere on stage (say, Julian’s amp). We use a mix of all that. The Launchpad helps keep things “live” and spontaneous, and not so much pre-taped. Under the computer is the trusty Korg NanoKontrol, which I mostly use for volume sliders and a play/stop button. To the right, The Akai MPK has drum pads that I can bang out a quick beat with, then loop on stage. The keys are usually mapped to effects rather than notes, so by hitting keys I can chop up and have fun with beats live. Judging by the looks Sean gives me, sometimes it’s unexpected. The iPad controls a lot of random stuff just for fun and effects, and the big keyboard is for you know, playing. Under the iPad is an M-Audio Firewire solo, a small interface that’s powered by the computer as well, so no more racks to bring out.

Whether anyone cares about this stuff or not… hey, it’s fun for us and I hope we can translate that fun on stage. We’ve been re-tooling a lot of songs to get the pre-recorded backing tracks out and the spontaneity in. And we have some new tunes to boot. Hope to see you at a show soon.

Happy new year!

We’re hard at work on the best version of Sharks yet. Let’s get back to playing lots of shows again.

at practice

New Release: Bankers EP

Hi all, the day is here! Go stream or download our new EP, Bankers right now!

No iTunes, no CD, no Spotify, nothing like that — at least not yet. We may choose to later, but we’re doing an exclusively digital release on our own Bandcamp site. Here’s why:

  1. Bandcamp is free for us. With a bunch of babies and some job changes going on, we could stand to save a little dough.
  2. It’s also (optionally) free for you. Sure, you can stream for free on Spotify or MOG or something like that, but we’re allowing you to download this to your computer or iPod, even in FLAC.
  3. If you choose to pay, you pick the price — and more of it goes to us. Amazon and iTunes fix prices on albums, and EPs cost more than we think they should. Yet after the stores take their cut, we get very little. If you’re going to pay, we want it to be what you think it’s worth, not what Apple or Amazon does (surprisingly, people do often say more). And if you’re willing to give us money, I think it’s better for both you and us that we get more of it than they do.

If you disagree, and would prefer to get stuff via iTunes, Amazon, or Google Play (I know it can be really convenient to get stuff directly onto your smartphone that way) tell us on Facebook. If you’d like a physical CD, please tell us too. We’re considering all the possibilities right now. But in the meantime, go listen!

And with that…

Hi all. If you were there, you know, and if you weren’t you might’ve heard: Things didn’t go as planned last night :) A scheduling mishap at the venue combined with ACL debilitating any potential replacement sound-person prevented  us from playing. We did manage to kick out a few acoustic tunes with WRS, and that was a fun way to uh, make lemonade as they say.

We may have missed playing our last show for a little while, but we’re not sitting down and relaxing yet. Today the EP goes out for mastering, and it’ll be released digitally on our Bandcamp site as soon as the mastering process is done. After that, we have a couple new versions and new songs to record with Julian and Sean, some more work to do refining our new hybrid acoustic-electronic process… and sometime next year we’ll be returning to the stage again.

Thanks for listening!

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