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Controlling G.A.S.

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There is the lure of new gear.

A frenzy you enter when you order it. An anxious anticipation until it arrives. Many of us love that excitement of the UPS truck showing up.

Getting new gear is often counterproductive at first though. It takes time to understand new gear. Trying out new gear is often more a scientific experiment than a creative one.

This sort of distraction can really bring down a session if you’re not careful. Nobody wants to be waiting around while you’re reading a manual or hunting down an error.

In the heat of the moment, old trusted gear is still better.

Faults and Quirks

The only way to learn the limits and quirks of new gear is to use it.

When is a good time then? I like to record or produce something for fun that has no creative pressure or financial pressure. Something strictly for fun. Perhaps a cover song or some friends messing around.

Because of the low pressure of the situation and noncommitment to creativity, you can be free to twist knobs, read manuals and google errors. Someone can go on a beer run while I refer to the manual.

During this “research” session I’ll make sure to do the absolutely ridiculous.

Turn the knobs in all directions. Try to blow it up if It’s still under warranty. (Your family is probably right about you avoiding fire, I mean it hypothetically). You want to see how the gear reacts. Go on, get Freaky with it.


The Only Exception

Sure there are times when a new toy-inspired a part, but often after you purchase something, your mind is spinning.

Installing software upgrades, sample libraries, registering software are all distracting activities.

Lust Demons

Let’s say there has been this compressor you’ve been lusting after. You finally saved enough coin to order it from your favorite drug… I mean, gear dealer. You check your email every five minutes looking for confirmation of payment.

That’s not enough though.

Now you twitch until you get tracking information. It still doesn’t stop.

You check the shipping status hourly to see if it will arrive before schedule.

At this point, you’ve not eaten or bathed in days and friends are avoiding you.

Yes, we get it… it’s a nice compressor and will sound great on the drum bus. But, are you coming to moms birthday gathering on Monday? CONFLICT!! That’s delivery day!! (Note, go to moms birthday party ya jerk!!)

The Twitch

You wake up early on the delivery day and barely eat breakfast. You’re now totally hopped up on caffeine. Where is it? Why hasn’t it come yet? Is that the sound of the UPS truck? You jump at every truck driving down your street.

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It’s getting near the point that if the package doesn’t come soon, the UPS driver may need a restraining order. 6 pm?!? You come to my door at 6 pm?!?! I’ve been waiting all day!!!! Don’t you love me anymore?!?! Tip: UPS drivers don’t like this.

You feverishly sign for your package and rip it open. Your session is starting in half an hour. There is just enough time to patch it in. Is it going to work great on the drum buss remember? You’re just about patched in and haven’t even turned it on when the doorbell rings. Yeah, the worlds only musician who shows up not just on time but early is on your session.

At this point, your mind is not clear. The wise decision would be to put the toy away until you get some quiet time together. Cuddle a little first before your first public outing.

Self Respect

It’s important to remember that even if you have no client, as in you’re producing yourself, it doesn’t change things.

You are your own client and should treat yourself with the same respect.

Don’t get caught in self-destructive behavior that defeats creativity.

Stuck At A Standstill

This week an update became available for a piece of software I was using to write a book. It came up through the Mac update page and without thinking, I said ok to download. Near the end, I had a slight thought that maybe it’s not a great idea. But, it was too late.

It all happened kinda quick. And my first thought was, “oh nice, they fixed some stuff.” Then my instincts went off screaming “Nooooo!!!!”

Sho nuff, there were issues. Not little annoying issues, but issues like the program wouldn’t work at all. Yup, my project was stalled. Luckily, my deadline was a little flexible. But, imagine if I had a client coming in. Not a good situation.

Code Red

I only do updates on the fly if my system is halted and there is no option. For non-emergency situations hold off.

By all means, have fun! Play with your new gear and updates. But, dedicate special time to avoid chaos and stress.

Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall is a producer, songwriter, session musician and instructor based in NYC. More at