30 December 2010

Nice knowing you, 2010

"Coming in a mess; going out in style" - D'you know what I mean? - Oasis

That line can pretty much sum up what 2010 was like for me. The start of the year signified the end of a fairly long creative break for 12th Avenue, which was much to our relief, as we were all dying to get on stage again. We spent the first month of the year auditioning bassists and after Brian joined, we hit the ground running. Although we didn't play quite as many shows this year as we have in the past; the quality of, and response to, the shows has been phenomenal. Judging by what our new management has done this year, I think next year is going to rock big time!

We released our first free digital single, "Hearts on Fire", earlier this year, which received some really good reviews and caused us to have to upgrade our website to handle more traffic. If you don't have the single yet, it's still free and available for download here.

Around the time that we recorded the song, SA had football fever with the FIFA World Cup being hosted on South African soil for the first time. I took the opportunity to watch one of the first round games at Cape Town Stadium and it was awesome. The band also had the privilege of performing at the various Fan Fests around the Western Cape, which were all amazing shows. The band also toured Gauteng and Namibia this year, which were both epic tours. It's just a pity that we weren't able to do the East Coast this year, but we promise to head out there next year again.

Even though another year is ending, there are a lot of new beginnings going on. Our bassist, Brian, welcomed his son into the world on 23 December 2010 and we're all really happy for him and his wife. We've decided on the songs for our new album and are starting recording in January. We're really happy with what we've written. For a sneak peak at some of our pre-production material, check out the video in my blog entitled "Tis the Season...". I'm also super excited for the new year, as we have a lot of cool ideas regarding our shows and new places to tour to. I really can't wait!

So here's to a new year, filled with possibilities and hopefully filled with as many good times as this one was.

See you in 2011! Don't forget to shut the door on your way out... :)

23 December 2010

I want an X-Box

I wasn't originally going to post another blog entry before Christmas, but I decided that I don't really do this as often as I should, so here it goes...

Remember when you were a kid and you'd write these long lists of things that you'd like for Christmas? The thing at the top of my list was always drums and when I finally got drums at age 11 (as a Christmas present), the list would normally consist of drum-related items like cymbals, hardware, skins and sticks. Occasionally I'd have things in there like a new skateboard and of course video games. 

This brings me to my wish list for this year. I know it's not going to happen, but we're all allowed to dream. So, instead of boring you with my usual list of drums and drum-related equipment, yachts, private jets, and a troupe of dancing jelly beans, I'll just give you my number one for this year:

X-Box 360 with Kinect and all Rock Band/Guitar Hero/Band Hero equipment, and extra controllers (why does it only come with one?)

Gimme, gimme, gimme!!!

I tried out Kinect the other day and decided that nothing else compares to it. X-Box is already awesome on its own, but I think they've really stepped it up now. Must...have...now!! Of course I'd still want to play regular games too, because it's just that cool, and we can't rule out all the X-Box instruments, especially the drums. Gotta have the drums!

Oh, and in case you were thinking "What an idiot, he didn't ask for games!", I'd like plenty of games with it please, especially the Lego games. I played Lego Harry Potter the other day and it's probably the most awesomely fun game I've played in a long time. 

"It's Levi-oh-sa, not Levioh-saaah!"

Speaking of Harry Potter, Mark, my brother/singer/guitarist, said that he wants to try to make Butterbeer sometime after having it during his trip to America. I think I need to nag him about that one...

Alright, I'll update this again after Christmas. Hope this year's a good one for everyone. Merry Christmas!!!

20 December 2010

Tis the Season...

My Google countdown timer shows that, at the moment, it's just more than 4 1/2 days until Christmas, which is my favourite time of year. It's hot and sunny (although really windy in Cape Town), and unless you have air-conditioning, you generally feel kind of sticky, but it's okay, because everyone else feels the same. You eat and drink too much, but that's pretty normal for me, and your skin feels tingly all the time because you're A) sweating, B) sunburnt, or C) both A and B.

Apart from the all-round awesomeness of Summer, Christmas time is just really fun. You meet up with people who you never see on any of the other 364 days of the year. Family members that you usually can't tolerate are nicer because they buy you great gifts. (Thankfully, I get along pretty well with my family, regardless of gift buying skill :) ) You see friends at church on Christmas morning, who are never there on any of the other 51 Sundays of the year. If you're not at the malls, fighting through the masses of annoying shoppers with their 6 children per family all screaming and crying for toys and sweets, life's pretty awesome around Christmas.

I've been staying in Cape Town for the past week, instead of my usual hometown of Bellville. My girlfriend and I are looking after a friend's place and cat while she is away on holiday. It's a nice change from home. We have a partially obstructed view of Table Mountain and are in walking distance of some pretty good restaurants. We've been getting up later than normal and playing stacks of Lego Star Wars on the PC. In other words, living the dream! Hehe!

On the band front, pre-production is in phase 2. We've selected the songs for the new album and are now putting them together with proper lyrics and getting all the parts perfect, so we don't have to do too many retakes in studio.

Here's a sample of some of the demos that we've been working on:

I haven't been listening to all that much new music at the moment, mostly shuffling my music library and listening to whatever my media player decides on. However, I have been listening to Taking Back Sunday's Live from Orensanz album, which is an awesome live acoustic show.

Since I highly doubt I'll even be near a PC, let alone online, on Christmas day, I'm going to wish everyone a Merry Christmas now. I hope it's a great one for you all! :)

23 November 2010

A quick rant...

I know it's been a long time since my last update, but I haven't really been able to blog lately. Most of PC time has been spent on e-mail and updating the band's Twitter (www.twitter.com/12thavenueband). I had to take on extra Twitter duties while Mark was away. Yes, our band takes shifts on our social media sites. I'm not telling who's on when. That's for you to figure out. 

I'm busy with a blog update right now, but this thought just crossed my mind while reading something online. So, to entertain you, I have a quick rant!

I'm not sure if anyone else has noticed this, but people really cannot spell these days! Seriously, how hard is it to differentiate between "where" and "were"? Oh, and if you have to fit your entire day's thoughts into 140 characters, at least make it easy to understand. I don't carry my Dictionary of Troll everywhere I go!

Okay, I feel better now... :)

Back to my actual blog - an update is on the way in the next couple of days. Stay tuned!

12 October 2010

Pre-production update

For the past couple of weeks, we've been locked up in our home studio working on pre-production for our new album. In between regular rehearsals for shows, we've been writing new material and making the roughest of rough recordings on our cellphones. After racking up a fair amount of ideas, we're now refining the ideas and formulating and recording some actual songs using actual recording equipment as the first phase of pre-production. I decided to get all artistic and take photos of the studio setup, but upon taking out the camera the other night, I realised that I had left the batteries charging at home.

Enter the infamous cellphone camera... (Please, no comments on the poor focus of some of these photos. I did the best with what I had!)

I discovered the other day that my phone's camera has a macro function. I also discovered how cool my snare drum mic looks when photographed with the macro function! :)

At least 1/4 of each session is spent deciphering horribly distorted recordings taken from Mark's iPhone. Here's a photo of the rest of the guys deep in discussion as to what chords they were playing on the rough recording.

 Typical studio photo. I couldn't resist...

My corner of fun. Complete with bongo drums and a tambourine! 

Three essential components to any studio setup - Working batteries for anything that requires batteries, spare cables for when you trip over the current ones and break them along with your legs, and masking tape for temporarily fixing broken equipment until you can find duct tape to permanently fix it.

If you could read waveforms, you'd know how much this song rocks... :p

About 1/3 of my drum kit. I like drums. Can you tell?

We still have a few more ideas to run through and record before we enter stage 2, which is reviewing the tracks again and actually constructing songs that don't involve us singing "nah, nah, blah, blah, doo bee doo" because we don't have any lyrics yet.

Hopefully my next update will include a few sound clips of what we've done so far. For now, adios amigos!

10 September 2010

Wherever the road takes us… 12th Avenue August 2010 Tour Diary (Originally posted on MySpace - 6 September 2010)

6 August 2010 – Crossing the border

Not even three of the most annoying cellphone alarm tones can adequately wake me up at 4am. With the stars still shining bright outside, I was awoken by Mark after failing to get up. After a quick shower, I packed the last remaining essential items and we headed off to Cape Town International Airport where we met Bjorn and Brian, along with our Managers, Nicci and Brendan.  After checking in enough equipment to slow the plane down to the speed of the N1’s morning traffic, we had a quick cup of coffee at Wimpy before saying goodbye to Brendan (he had business to attend to in Cape Town) and jetting off to Windhoek, Namibia where we had been invited to play a very special event at Wanderers Sports Club.

After arriving, we had a struggle finding the rest of the band’s guitars, as they had been mistaken by security for hunting rifles and were waiting at the gun counter. We then met our host and set off to the hotel for some welcome drinks. For those of you who don’t know Windhoek, the airport is in the middle of the desert, so after driving for what felt like the lifetime of a common house fly, we reached the oasis that is the Safari Court Hotel, our accommodation for the night. (We were meant to stay at the 3-star Hotel Safari, but we got bumped up to the 4-Star Safari Court, free of charge. Booyah!) After a drink by the pool, we headed off to RadioWave for a short (really short) live interview. However, I had time to hijack the station’s computer and update our Facebook page. After that it was time for soundcheck and then off to dinner at Joe’s Beerhouse. After eating a meal equivalent to the size of my mom’s famous Christmas lunch, we rolled out of Joe’s and returned to the Hotel for a shower , some bad Namibian TV and a pre-show nap to “work” off the food.

Before we knew it, it was show time. Namibia knows how to rock. We had an awesome show and were pretty surprised at how many people knew the lyrics to our songs. It was great to hear the crowd singing back so enthusiastically. After the show, it was off to ZanziBar’s VIP Lounge for the after-party.  After consuming an entire snack platter myself, we eventually headed back to the hotel in the early hours of the morning. Mission accomplished.

26 August 2010 – A girl named Jozi

Johannesburg, where there are almost as many shopping malls as there are cars on the roads. Let’s not even get started on the roads. Not even 2 GPS systems and an iPhone can help a bunch of Capetonians find their way around properly.

After arriving via One Time Airlines, who were cool enough to increase our luggage limit by elephant size times kg’s; we were met by our hosts, Craig and Michelle Davis, who are the most hospitable people in the world. Little did we know that for the next few days, they’d be feeding us possibly 4 times more than what we ate at Joe’s in Windhoek a few weeks back.  Once the van was packed tighter than a minibus taxi, we made our way to TUKS FM for an interview and acoustic performance.  After getting lost a few more times, we collected some extra equipment, courtesy of Jean Village Music, and arrived at Tings ‘n Times in Pretoria, where we had a rocking show with Ode and The Monroes, two really awesome bands. After a good party, we got lost a bit more and made it back to the house for a well-deserved sleep.

27 August 2010 – Earthquake!

After a massive breakfast, it was time for a long overdue meeting with Sheer Music, our publishers. The meeting went very well and we all left feeling a whole lot better about life. Kovsie FM phoned Mark for a live interview and apparently he sounded good on air. I was a bit out of it during this time, as I was over-medicated, trying to fight a cold. As Jerry Seinfeld says, “Tell me what dosage will kill me, and then take it down a notch.”

Back to the house for a day of Guitar Hero and a Lasagne that Garfield would be proud of, it was time to head off to Roxy’s in Melville for Joburg Burning. Although the venue seems to have lost its appeal a bit (possibly because the drinks cost a small fortune), we had fun on stage and it was cool to meet the guys from Evolver One, who played after us. We had some fun after the show by building a tower of bottles on the table and then proceeding to do an “earthquake test”. We left soon after that…

28 August 2010 – Mystic mayhem

Yet another enormous breakfast! Om nom nom nom… fast forward 4 hours later and after a hot, slightly cramped drive, we arrived at Die Mystic Boer in Bloemfontein for soundcheck. After soundcheck we had a braai at Pedro from All Will Fall’s place. We stayed over there after the show. Big thanks to Pedro and Chantelle for looking after us. After filling our stomachs, it was time to hit the stage. This show was the highlight of the tour. Close to 500 screaming fans jumped, clapped and screamed their lungs out. Audio Nebula, who opened, were a very impressive new band, and All Will Fall, who celebrated their 100th show, closed in style and were extremely entertaining as always. In what seems to be a tradition when we play together, Craig from All Will Fall joined us on stage for guest vocals on “Beds Are Burning”, which totally rocked.

After the show, we had what could’ve been the wildest end-of-tour party. It equalled the end of our tour with Seether in 2008. Since I’m trying to keep this PG at the least, let’s just say that Motley Crue would’ve been proud of us.

29 August 2010 – Uggghhh…

Another long drive back to Joburg. Brian taught me and Bjorn how to make “On-the-road Muesli” by mixing yoghurt and Nuttikrust biscuits. The rest is kind of a hot, sweaty, smelly blur; apart from Mark yelling “it’s stuck to me! It’s in my mouth! Uggghhhh!!!” after someone let one rip in the van.  Gross, but funny all at once. A braai fit for kings awaited us at Craig and Michelle’s place and we spent a bit more time resting up and playing Guitar Hero before heading home. Thanks very much again to Craig and Michelle for all they did for us on this tour. We’ll see you guys soon!

Keep your eyes on our website - www.12thavenueband.com - for our upcoming tour dates. We’re bringing life jackets to the next one… (I’d tell you what this is about, but then I’d have to kill you)

Peace homies!  :p
Gareth Haze
The guy making the noise behind the drums

I think my legs hate me (Originally posted on MySpace - 04 August 2010)

I think my legs hate me

As you’ve probably read on one of our band’s numerous social media profiles, we had a photoshoot all day this past Sunday. If you’ve been following us even more closely, you’d know that we had a show at Mercury Live in Cape Town the night before the shoot. And, if you were at the show, you’d know that we were there until about 2am, even though we knew we had a shoot at 10am

So, after a minimal amount of sleep and a good cup of filter coffee, I arrived (half an hour late because I couldn’t wake up) at The Loft photographic studio in Cape Town. The rest of the guys were already there, getting all prettied up. I, on the other hand, felt as though a freight train had driven into me and then decided to back up over me a few times, just because that would seem like a fun idea to a demented train operator. After another cup of even stronger coffee and a couple minutes of standing outside in the “fresh” Cape Town air, I was almost human again. Fast forward to 6pm and after a full day of being in front of the camera, which included jumping and kicking like some kind of crazed ninja and ravaging my drumsticks like a dog with a brand new chew toy, I was once again WRECKED!

Fast forward to today (Wednesday) and I am still feeling a bit worse for wear. I think my legs hate me, because as tired and sore as they are, I’m not really giving them all that much rest. I walked about 5km yesterday and will probably do the same today and tomorrow. We also had rehearsal last night, which just adds to the fun of having your muscles scream out to you “Why!!!? You are a sick man! Stop hurting us!!”

I guess I’ll get some rest on Saturday…

My reason for saying the above is because Friday morning we fly to Namibia! It’s our first tour out of the country and I’m really amped for it. Apparently, so is the city of Windhoek. We heard that the event organizers put on a pre-show party this past weekend and had a huge turnout. We also heard that apart from the show being advertised 5 times a day on the country’s major radio station, we’re also featured in Air Namibia’s in-flight magazine. That’s crazy! I’m hoping this is the first of many trips there. So as I was saying, we arrive in Namibia on Friday morning and then head out for a radio interview. Then we play the show that night. It doesn’t stop there, because there’s an official after-party and then apparently and after-after party as well. This is gonna be interesting…

This is sort of off the topic, but if you’re wondering why I didn’t blog last week it’s cos my pc has been out of action. This is what happens when you decide to upgrade to a secondhand pc (because you’re cheap/poor like that) that is better than your old one, but you try to use parts of your old inferior and incompatible pc in the new one to keep your precious documents and stuff. Long story short, the new pc is working now and I still have all my old documents. Nice…

Speaking of computers, if you haven’t yet downloaded our new single “Hearts on Fire”, go to our website (www.12thavenueband.com) now and download it. It’s free and we want you to have it and share it with all your friends. While you’re there, why not link to our social media sites and friend/follow/stalk us?

Alright, that’s it for now. No playlist this time because I haven’t got any new music lately.  But here’s something else:

Currently watching: FlashForward (I have 2 episodes left) Then onto Fringe: Season 2
Currently reading: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Current favourite websites: Alternative Press: (www.altpress.com) & Garfield (www.garfield.com)

“New” things! (Originally posted on MySpace - 15 July 2010)

Hey everyone! Well, it’s been over a month since my last blog entry. FOR SHAME!!! Sorry about that. Just been incredibly busy lately. So the soccer world cup is finally over and all is somewhat back to normal. We played 4 shows at the Cape Town fan parks and they were all amazing. Thank you to all who braved the cold and the swarms of tourists to support us. You are all incredible people and all deserve hugs, high-fives and other acts of appreciation!

So what exactly have I been up to in the past month? To sum it up, I’ve been doing “new” things. I got new cymbals, which sound amazing. I got Istanbul Mehmet crashes and hi-hats. Next mission - new ride, splash and china! Thanks to Paul Bothner Music for ordering them in for me. Best…sponsors…ever!! I also spent a weekend in Franschhoek on a farm, surrounded by horses, which was something new to me, and I attended my first international soccer game. Went to check out Italy vs Paraguay at Cape Town Stadium. Awesome!

The band also recorded a new song at a studio that we haven’t worked at before. The song is called “Hearts on Fire” and we recorded it at Digital Forest Studios.  I believe that the mastering has just been done, so I’m really looking forward to hearing the finished product. We’re also taking a bit of time to write some new songs for our new album!

We have a lot of shows planned for the next month and a bit and I’m really excited to play. Playing some places that we’ve never played before with bands we’ve never played with before. More new things! The shows include a tour to Namibia, and a tour to Bloemfontein, Pretoria and Johannesburg. The details will be online soon. Tell all your friends!

That’s about all the news I can think of right now, so once again I leave with my playlist of new music that I’m listening to! (Well, some of it’s not new, but it’s new to my playlist  )


New songs added to my playlist for this week:

“Wrap Me Up” - Terrible Things
“Sink into Me” - Taking Back Sunday
“Get out” - Circa Survive
“Say this Sooner” - The Almost
“The Silence” – Mayday Parade
“Anthem of our Dying Day” – Story of the Year

Issue 1 (Originally posted on MySpace - 3 June 2010)

Hey everyone!

I’ve decided to take over our band’s blog and let you know what’s on my mind and what I’m up to. Since you normally only get to see me behind a kit, I thought I’d let you get to know me better. Maybe the rest of 12th Avenue will follow suit. Time will tell…

So I’m pretty much having a chilled out day. Just been discussing our current tour schedule with the rest of the band. Our Namibian show has officially been confirmed, which is awesome. We’re also confirming our shows at the Soccer World Cup fan zones in the next 2 days. I’m very excited for those.  We have rehearsal tonight and then it’s off to Langebaan on the West Coast tomorrow for a show. Awesome!

I’m also looking into getting some new cymbals. Looking at getting Zildjian Z3 crashes & Zildjian Armand hi-hats. Gonna call Paul Bothner Music today to see what they’ve got for me. I also seriously have to get a new PSP charger. Mine has disappeared off the face of the earth. Damn gremlins stealing all my stuff!!
Random thought: I’ve been craving donuts since last night. Must make a plan soon…

Well, that’s all for today. Hopefully I’ll have some more news this weekend. For now, I leave you with some songs I’ve been listening to today:
“Born to Quit” – The Used

“Break Your Little Heart” – All Time Low

“North Atlantic Vs North Carolina” – Memphis May Fire

“Beautiful Thieves” – AFI

“Jamie All Over” – Mayday Parade

“The Day that Saved Us” – Automatic Loveletter

“Wires (and the Concept of Breathing)” – A Skylit Drive

“Living Together” – Circa Survive

Rock on!

Gareth Haze – 12th Avenue

P.S: Send us mail! We wanna hear from you – fan@12thavenueband.com