This blog has now reached it's end. The American Adventure has finished. Will there be a sequel in the near future? One will never know, but for now let's let the credits roll...

Friday, December 31, 2010

Chapter appyhay ewnay earyay

Today is new year's eve. And I thought I'd show you something 'interesting'.

Instead of posting on twitter the random boring stuff that happens today, I will show you just how uninteresting my new year's eve can be by posting a regular update on this blog post.

Here we go.

It's now 8:22. Had a short brief chat with family members back home when I woke up.
Best quote
"Why can hear children?"
"Because there is a children."
Made coffee. Sat down. Typed this.

Stay tuned for more gripping events as they happen.

8:32 - second cup of coffee. Let's go wild!

8:54 - playing some music on itunes. Darrell Evans' version of trading my sorrows is my favourite. There are some songs you grow up with that you will never let go. This is one of them.

9:06 - writing a year end essay. Pulitzer for sure. Or whatever award you give to essays. Someone needs to pay me to write these things. Anyone? Anyone?

9:19 - Things are going crazy! It's time to up the ante and wash some dishes!

10:27 - Now the real fun begins. Things are really hotting up and getting crazy here on New Year's Eve. Now I'm going to go help some people move house! Isn't that awesome! Let's DO THIS!

11:33 - Haha! Friend brought a drink shaker for tonight's entertainment! Sweet.

14:00 - Pizza lunch time! Crazy stuff!

15:27 - Done and done. Tired. Time to go pick up 'tonight's entertainment'.

16:15 - Look at the queue. Everyone at the store with their selected poison for the night. Me? A bottle of olives, some gin, and some dry vermouth. Yums.

16:25 - Home at last. Rest up before the 'big party'.

16:57 - SWEEEEET!!! My I Fight Dragons T-shirt arrived in the mail.

17:10 - Oh MY GOODNESS! Things just got incredibly crazy here at the HUGE PARTY that I'm having with myself. First beer of the evening! Hoowah!

17:14 - Oh no, oh no! Things are getting really wild. Some friends from around the world just showed up on skype! This can only mean one thing! - STARCRAFT! See you on the other side of the match.

17:42 - Game 1 over! Looks like some people need to take a breakfast break. Yeap that's right. Malaysian friend decided to not eat breakfast and play first. Funny.
Oh and by the way .... VICTORY! Yay!

18:06 - woah the epitome of fun - watching videos on youtube. I am just that awesome. This party is going wild.

18:10 - Game 2 of international Starcraft begins!

18:39 - Game 2 over! Victory! Totally won by my allies. Starcraft done. Friend in the UK needs to sleep. Fun times!

18:42 - Time to bring out the BIG GUN in entertainment and super crazy fun time. Happy awesome power! I'm going to play some digital legos now. LEGO DIGITAL DESIGNER!

19:39 - Finished dinner. Home made kuay teow soup. Time to build more legos before the first martinis are served.

20:14 - The first martinis are made. Time to get crazy!

20:49 - Martini number 2! Time to shake things up and watch some basketball!

21:05 - Wow, things just got even more exciting! Now we're swapping in and out between the basketball game and the movie Zodiac. HAVE YOU HAD THIS MUCH CRAZY FUN IN YOUR LIFE?

22:12 - Martini 3. I need gloves to shake my martinis in this cold weather. Still watching Zodiac.

22:28 - I'ma have some CHIPS and DIP.

00:10 - oh .look it's new years. I dozed off watching ZOdiac drinking martinis. There's fireworks going off everywhere.

Happy new year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Chapter Eve Eve

Yet another satisfying night of moving stuff around.

It's Christmas Eve today (exactly 5 minutes past midnight) and I just spend the eve of the Eve doing exactly what I did last year. Points if you remember it from last year when I blogged about it.

Yes, we have Christmas Eve service at a church building and right before it, on the Eve eve, they run a toy drive for the neighbourhood families where they basically give out free toys for Christmas. So because we need to use the space on the Eve, we spend the Eve eve clearing up the area and packing away stuff.

It's no big thing really. Just a bunch of people from the church gathering together to perform some required labour. No big deal, nothing fancy. Nothing glamourous.

Yet there is a real joy in doing something tangible like this. Sure it's all good to be doing service in many ways but to me there's something about doing manual labour that's just extra satisfying. The fact that the group of us will probably receive no attention for it (except the far away attention that I'll get from telling you all about it here) and we'll get no real credit or whatsoever for doing it brings more joy to it because all glory goes to God.

Service in secret. Service with joy. Service like no other.

Merry Christmas Eve eve, and Merry Christmas Eve and Merry Christmas tomorrow.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tales from MI - Chapter 12

Final bits of Level 3 before we move on to the miscellaneous classes and stuff! Lots more to get through!

So we have the Latin class in level 3. Taught by Latin supremo Chuck Silverman.

I actually heard of Chuck way back when I was visiting the forums. And then when I got over here and saw him on the list of instructors I was really stoked about it. I signed up for almost all the classes he was teaching and eventually when I got to the final 6 months of my MI stint, I got to take his Latin drumming class.

The class covered drumset styles inspired by Brazilian rhythms and Cuban rhythms. Everything from samba to bossa to cha-cha to songo... I learned as many of them as possible. A whole bunch of them really helped out in my audition so this was definitely one of the most informative classes.

Also, Chuck is a supremo when it comes to latin rhythms. He's your typical white canadian man, but he's fallen so deeply in love with these rhythms that he's spent so much time pursuing it and learning it and playing it. He's been to all these places and seen the actual traditional rhythms like Cuba and Brazil. He's managed to encompass all these rhythms in his own playing. This is great motivation for guys like us who aren't in any way brazilian or Cuban. 

I also took private lessons with Chuck for a semester and it was great. Lots of chart reading and tough songs and rhythms to play. Really good real world training.

I had a second private lesson for my last semester there. Taught by jazz extraordinaire Jason Harnell. 

Jason was such a wealth of knowledge regarding jazz music. He's also such an awesome player with such great finesse it was such a joy to have him listen to my playing and offer constructive criticism. I had the opportunity to watch him live at the Baked Potato and it was just incredible seeing all the skills we talked about translated onto the drum kit.

I also bought a couple of his CDs. Good stuff.

Stay tuned for the next few episodes as we wrap up the electives and LPWs and the fantastic Schroeder Ensemble!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tales from MI - Chapter 11

Next up is another real treat. From the next class - Ensemble playing technique - taught by none other than the legendary Ralph Razze.


You have no idea how much of an honor it is to see and hear this man on the drums. Big band playing legend, sessions legend.. LEGEND.

While the class itself wasn't too taxing - we basically learned how to interpret charts in a real life setting (which by the way really helped when it came to my cruise audition) - and I breezed through most of the class, it was incredible to witness Ralph blasting his way through these charts.

Also incredible was the fact that Ralph is an incredible library of amazing music. He's worked on GI JOE commercials - which I HAVE THE TRACKS FOR NOW - and a lot of like cool 80's big band funk and all sorts of stuff. He's just worked on so much stuff and in his class we got a taste of all the stuff he's worked on in the many years.

Equally mind blowing was our next level 3 class - Odd meter - taught by another legend, Ed Roscetti.

Composer extraodinaire, innovative legend, world music genius and perhaps one of the greatest educators I've ever met. Together there with the live band we played in class. Ed is an incredible educator. His approach to learning and teaching is just so thorough and effective it makes it hard to believe that few others teach the same way.

I also did get the chance to see Ed live several times and one of the greatest encouragements is that he IS what he talks. To use a cruddy cliche - he talks the talk and walks the walk. Everything I saw him teach and talk about I also saw him use in a live setting. There are no tricks, no special moves, no hidden secrets. He teaches the way he plays and his own approach to becoming good in what he does. It's incredible.

That and he reduces the notion of playing in weird odd numbers into a super systematic method of learning.

And of course the best part is that he's so vocal with his teaching. A trait I think all drummers should have. He sings beats and rhythms and everything with his mouth. He then plays it with his body. He encompasses the instrument so well.

Great two classes. Awesome experience. Tune in for more!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tales from MI - Chapter 10

Moving on now to LEVEL 3! Why was level 2 so short, I hear you ask. Well the rest of the classes were the same as Level 1, just a lot harder. There still was the ever testing RSW class and reading and technique. So now we move on to LEVEL 3!

And we kick it off with one of my favourite classes - Studio Drums. 

In here we got to sit in the recording lab and play to a professional track and record drums over that. And then force ourselves to sit through the horror of our own ugly mistakes. We crossed several genres, but stuck around mostly pop, rock and a little funky stuff. 

Some weeks were pretty good and some were just terrible. It was an incredible learning experience though. I've never been in the studio before nor have I even recorded myself prior to coming to MI. So this was quite a refreshing and educating experience. Nothing teaches better than the recorder. And nothing motivates more than listening to myself. I see how crappy I am, but I also notice some of the awesome stuff I manage to do.

My final from the class is in an earlier post titled Chapter Z26. Go check it out for a sample of what goes on in this class.

I did have immense fun in there. Overall one of the best classes at MI and it really helped prepare for future studio recordings should I ever do any. 

And our teacher, Mr Charlie Waymire, was always on the ball. He was incredibly keen eyed (and eared) in spotting my errors and telling me how to correct them. And he's also one of the funniest dudes at school. Good stuff. And where else can you go except music college where your teachers have mohawks and join in the photograph fun like this?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tales from MI - Chapter 9

More tales from MI!

Now we go into our next LEVEL 2 class - contemporary drum concepts, or better known back in the day as ROCK DRUMS.

This is the class where I learn pretty much just how bad I am at playing rock. I'm terrible at it. My volume levels are all jacked and I have terrible power behind my strokes. I hit the toms like a sissy and I pedal my bass like I'm stepping on a hamster. Woah, scary analogy.

Yes. Rock drums. And a whole bunch of stuff that came with it too. We had a double pedal portion of the class too - you can see my failed attempts at it on my youtube page. Double bass disaster. Pretty much sums up just how much I enjoyed that portion of class.

We did also have some crazy paradiddle permutations and linear patterns and stuff that were really cool though. And some great triplet-y fill ideas and all sorts of other really cool bits in class. And this was the other class that we got to play with a live band every week. I'm not particularly a fan of playing in that class though because quite frankly I did stink at playing rock.

But all that changed after going to MI. Now I can back beat like a caveman with a club and I'm pretty darn sure I'm capable of smacking the bass drum straight through. And then some. It's not just about the volume though - it's about the balance of sound.

And none of it would be possible without the ever awesome super cool Scott Wittenberg.

More tales from MI coming up!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tales from MI - Chapter 8

More classes to talk about. Entering the second batch of classes after 6 months, also known as LEVEL 2 (yeah like a character level up you know? add more skills and attributes and pwn more enemies.. I'm getting off topic here), we now have a couple of new classes.

First one is Jazz. Now I've been a jazz fanatic pretty much all my growing up life. I know it's weird for a 10 year old to get into jazz and fall in love with it but I did and I've always loved listening to it. I thought myself pretty darn good at it already and certainly thought I'd ace the class. It was fun to be able to get to play with a live band each class. Basically we got to play a chorus of a standard, have some solos, and then trade 4's or 8's with the soloists. Pretty standard stuff.

It did throw me off guard right away. I've never had the opportunity to play jazz with a live trio before. I've only ever played with tracks that I owned so it was a new experience. I fuddled it up quite a bit here and there.

But then I got myself a new private instructor for my next stint and he was, as they call him, the grease monkey. None other than Jazz guru Tim McIntyre. T-Mac, as he is also known as, also taught the jazz class and so I got a pretty good dose of jazz lessons.

While I may have had the skills and coordination to pull off most of the exercises he gave me, I didn't have the right idea about the sound of jazz. We spent lots of time playing around with the idea of making the thing sound right and having the right feel. And it was a lot of revamping on my part and putting my mind in the right place.

Also spent a lot of time listening to all sorts of material on youtube and from his personal collection. Great stuff.

It's because of this and my affinity with jazz that I started to become the jazz monkey in my batch. Me and a few other guys started nailing it down pretty good. And that helped in the Schroeder ensemble. More on that later.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tales from MI - Chapter 7

Continuing my catalogue of my MI experience - very delayed I know.

So you've seen technique with rob carson, and now we move on.

We're only on day 3 to be honest. More RSW and more reading.. and not much else. I'll cover my electives and other stuff later.

So on to day 4. New class is music minus one. It's a simple class. We're given a bunch of tracks and we're to play along to them with some lead sheet charts. Stuff is open for interpretation and there are a couple of hits to make and stuff. It's more a class to just have fun and play along to minus one tracks.

Looking back at it now, it was good training for my audition because sure enough I had to play to some pre recorded tracks. It's tough at first lining up perfectly with the track and carefully playing in time and catching every thing. Gary Hess takes this class once again and his approach is always the most simple and effective. In retrospect this was perhaps a crucial class for me to score that audition. Learning how to do things the easy way and making sure they worked was certainly a big help when I had to learn 3 charts on the fly in less than an hour.

We had some fun in this class and some crazy ideas among students. Also the tracks are mine to keep and they are actually pretty darn good ones too. Apparently John Pattitucci recorded the bass on some of them. Pro level minus one tracks? Any day.

Day 5 wraps up with the programming bit of Digital Drumming with Donny Gruendler. Here we learned how to program backing tracks and all sorts of stuff to do with technology - the part I'm actually very unfamiliar about. Protools, Reason, Ableton etc.. all the good stuff.

And that's Level 1 for ya. Next we move on to the classes that added on as the months went by. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 29, 2010






Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chapter waaaaaaa

So long no update?!!

Such is my life at the moment - nothing happening. So sad. No money go anywhere. No vehicle go anywhere. No motivation to go anywhere.

No job. No work.

Very bored.

But fear not!

I just had a very interesting audition experience just this last Monday.

It was an audition over the phone. Yeah, you read that right. Audition over the phone for a company called proship entertainment. Yep, KJ is applying for more cruise gigs because they are just awesome jobs.

So before we get to the juicy details that only relatives can possibly care about - like how it went and when I'll hear back from them and whether I'll get the job - let's go into the juicy details that I am obviously good at describing. The audition itself.

It was a very weird experience. I've never done any auditions over the phone, heck I've barely done any auditions live but I do know what it's like to play stuff for people on the spot, but in the same room with a tangible human. I did that all the time at school.

But over the phone? Not even skype? Not even a video conference? On my cell phone?

You'd think it'd be impossible, but they seem to have the process down very good.

So the guy calls me at ten in the morning and directs me to a website where I download a whole bunch of mp3's for the audition later. I give all of them a quick listen, my heart thumping like mad and my fingers cold with nervousness, I say out loud to myself 'Hoowah, let's do this' in my best Arnold Shwasz... shcawsz... schwayzsy... shwazszrenger...  Terminator voice and hop on my bike and get down to the studio.

Oh wait, I forgot to mention I also had charts to work on. I had 3 songs charted out and these weren't your basic lead sheet charts. Oh no, they tried to confuse me as best as they could with their weird phrase lengths and changing beats and weird broadway 2 beat boomchak 'botak' groove charts. Now I didn't have a printer handy at all. Thankfully there was a printing shop right next to the studio I was headed to.

25 cents a print.

WHAT!!! You're insane lady!

Considering that a printer costs a lot more than that, I decided to pay quietly for my charts. A quick glance at them and a swear word later I was in the studio, panicking.

Wait... No I wasn't. That's because the stupid studio guys opened LATE! ARGH. I lost 15 minutes of precious prep time. I told them ten in the morning. And they showed up at 10:30. Only served to feed my panic.

So there I was frantically trying to set everything up. It did serve well that I used that very same studio the night before and everything was already in place.

I had an hour between the first call at ten before the guy would call again for the audition. Half an hour of that prep time had gone. I started working through the charts. Initial reaction was 'Oh crap these are HARD!!! ARGHHH!'

Thankfully, I've proven to be a systematic learner. The more I played the more I got.

11 o'clock. RINGGGG!!

Here we go.

So the guy runs me through the process and I put down the phone, not hang up mind you, and sit it right next to my drums, put the tracks on and here we go.

Part 1 of the audition required me to play a total of 8 different styles like swing, funk, rock, samba, rhumba, broadway, etc (strangely no blues) and some brush work. MI training came in handy immediately. I racked my knowledge of latin styles and pulled out my grooves to perfection. And it totally helped that I spent the last six months at school working on my brush technique. I was the 'brush dude' in class. Nobody saw me without my brushes for that period of time.


Then came the terrifying charts. But then the audition-er told me something that totally calmed me down - they weren't going to cut me off if I messed up. I got two chances, and they will be impressed with the ability to fix stuff and improve quickly.

Luckily for me, I am a master at fixing my errors off the bat. All that playing in LPW's in school had totally prepped me for that. I used to play once, get my teacher's advice on what was crap and immediately sound like a pro the second time I played it. And this was no exception.

I CAN DO THIS (Terminator voice)

The whole idea of doing it over the phone made it seem more awkward than it needed to be. But I got through it nonetheless. I video-d the whole thing and packed it up and sent it off to them over the internet.

It took almost an hour to get through all the material and then I had some extra stuff to do for the video. But at the end of that, I was totally exhausted. And hungry.

I went home, ate, and totally crashed the whole afternoon. Maybe my nerves had tired me out. But still, it was incredibly exhausting.

So there you go. That was my audition.

I've gotten two calls back so far to check up on some details and initial reports say I did well in the audition.

The kind lady at proship called me today to ask if I would be interested in a six month contract on the Celebrity Millennium. I said yes without a second thought.

Go look that ship up. If I get that job, I start in march. Unless they whip up something earlier for me.

It's not confirmed yet, but it does look very hopeful. Keep praying. Hard.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Chapter 79.625 - You're never too far from home part 5

To the peeps around the world - You are NEVER too far from home.

Post tasting observation

- Product is made in Colombia. Wow.
- Taste much less sweet than Malaysian version. Without sugar, 5 table spoons in one cup is still not sweet.
- More chocolatey? Not by much.

What's to be said? Buatan Malaysia version better. Long live Milo Ais at the mamak.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tales from MI - Chapter 6.5

Continued from the previous post regarding my playing technique class.

Rob's finals have always been some of the most challenging. They aren't hard, they just require the most amount of rehearsal. He often includes snare drum pieces and exercises that include all sorts of rudiments, dynamics and tempos.

The very last final was a particularly tough challenge. Here's my original piece that we had to write for the final. Take a look at it and see if you dare play it.

So there you are. I wrote something regarding the title some time ago so if you didn't read that story, here it is.

And now comes the kicker - me actually playing the damn thing. There was a small mistake in the middle section where I stopped and restarted, but for the most part, it sounded pretty good.

Here's the insanity.

There you go. That's the culmination of 18 months of intense physical training and coordination. Questions regarding the piece? Anyone want to attempt it?

I didn't think so.

Till the next part.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chapter 300309922

Random update. I know I haven't posted stuff in a while. To be honest, there hasn't been much going on except that I'm still hunting for work. It's been more than a month now and still nothing develops. New York has yet to reply me as well so nothing on the American Adventure volume 2 has opened up.

As for the 'Tales from MI' series that I've been posting, I've been delaying that simply because I keep forgetting to upload my picture and video that I need for the next update. I want to keep it chronological so it'll wait until the day I actually remember to put that darn picture on my mac.

Unless I decide to take an Adventure somewhere. Which I think I will. Stay tuned for that. Apparently there's an awesome free holiday destination somewhere in LA that I am yet to visit. So I might just go for it. We'll see about that.

Till the next time...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tales from MI - Chapter 6

Just to clear things up, I'm not attempting to write a day by day account of my life at MI. Even I, who's certainly capable of writing nonsense to that amount, can not account for every single day spent at MI. What I am doing is taking a class by class approach. To make it systematic so that I don't glance over classes I'm going through them in the chronological order in which I took them. This brings us to the final class of day 2 - Playing Technique.

I was looking forward to this class a lot upon coming to MI. The one thing I was never sure about when I taught myself was my technique. I'd escaped any form of drumming injury in my 10 years of playing experience and had not come across anything which I couldn't eventually learn in my rudimental playing. For the drum-uneducated, rudiments are like drumming scales. They are fundamental exercises which every drummer does to make sure his hands are in check and that he can play any kind of stroke required on the drums.

Having never confronted my own technique and cross examining it with someone who actually knows what their doing, I've always feared that my technique harboured some bad habits which needed to be fixed. As such I was looking forward to a class that would actually make sure that my technique was up to par with what was required of me as a drummer.

It of course helps that the class is taught by 3 time world champion super snare drummer Rob Carson.

Rob teaches in a mixture of intense physical training, zen mastery and mental preparation. I'm not all for the zen mastery that envelopes some of his talks but he doesn't force it on anyone. It's his own little way of approach and it's cool. But man is he a monster for speed and hand condition. His curriculum contains hand exercises that are designed to just screw with your physical capabilities and they push the limits of what the hands can do. They build around all the drum rudiments and require control, speed, power, and everything else a drummer's hands need to do.

I managed to make my way through his 18 months crash course relatively unscarred. Well, scarred in a good way - my hands are no longer the same ones that I had when I left but are now these machines that are capable of things I only dreamed of doing.

It's an intense class. And it requires a lot of ritualistic practice. It takes up a huge bulk of my time in the labs - at least an hour every single day - and it's the most difficult thing about practicing drums. It's exactly like scales. It's tedious and uninspiring, but necessary for advancement. I'm glad I muscled through it.

And those DC 10s.. will never forget those. The insane heavy weapons for the technique war that is Rob's class.

A picture I posted a year ago and more. Just a reminder of how epic the size of these things are.

There's more that I can say about this class and that'll be next chapter. Plus you'll get to see a transcription and a video of my solo piece for my final - the one and only 'I SQUEEZE YOUR MANGOES'.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Tales from MI - Chapter 5

The Hess part 2.

So you've met gary in our previous chapter. He wounded up as my private instructor for my first 6 months too. I'm incredibly grateful for that. Gary's not the man with a million chops, but he's got everything he's got so solid you couldn't move it with a nuclear bomb.

And that helped me a lot because that's exactly what I needed - some good solid foundational stuff to build on. I've never had a teacher before coming to MI and so none of my skills were properly grounded. And Gary fixed that up real quick. It took him no less than 5 minutes into our first lesson to give me something that completely messed with the way I was positioned behind the kit. He slapped a little 16th note funk chart in front of me that totally screwed up my hands and how I was hitting the drums, immediately requiring a fix.

Best part about working with Gary was the fun big bang charts we did in the second quarter. I've never played to jazz charts before in my life, let alone big band stuff so it was incredibly fun. Coupled with his reading class, I started to get the hang of reading charts right off the bat and now I can do it pretty easily. Setting up figures and stuff is a lot of fun when you've got a whole brass section behind you and you nail those notes right on the head.

I also had Gary for my music minus one class.. but that's day four. We'll get there when we get there. We're in day 2 and that's no where near getting done.

Stay tuned for the next chapter - Playing technique with 3 time world champion snare drum master, Rob Carson.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chapter I - Intermissionsionsion

I went to see McCoy Tyner, the great jazz composing legend, today at the Catalina.

It was fantastic right up to the point McCoy walked off the stage because some a-hole was recording him on a video camera or some shit.

Which got me thinking - I want to come to a point where I'm established enough to be able to walk off stage whenever I want. It's a weird ambition, I admit.

Right now I'm at the point where I'll smile and take as much bull crap as I can handle, then some more, because clearly I need the work.

But one day...

I really need to punch that moron. If only I weren't so skinny.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tales From MI - Chapter 4

Today's episode is dedicated to the Hess. That's Mr. Gary Hess, Mr. PIT for you.

First quarter, Mr. Hess was in charge of a bunch of my classes. And he was my private instructor for the first 6 months.

 Gary's known for being a little scary. He actually joked about not smiling in my picture and I told him 'it looks more natural'. Well, I'm kidding. He's an awesome instructor and a crazy great player. He's just incredibly honest when it comes to his classes. He'll tell it like it is. If it sucked and if you come in unprepared, he'll give it to you right there. No sugar coating with the Hess.

I remember day 2 at MI in one of his other classes - Developing Your Groove. That class basically puts your whole basic coordination to the test to find out just what you can't do and what you can. All sorts of coordination patterns against ride surfaces and stuff. It's actually a good class - aside from the fact that there are 10 other drummers in the same class bashing away and burying the click.

First time off the gun, everyone totally rushed the metronome. Eager horses, everyone.

And then there's Gary's famous metronome ending. He gives the rat-tat-tat-tat-tat ending (in music notes, it's C_G_G-A_G-B-C with the _ meaning going down.. you'll know it once you hear it) and we give the last two smacks on the B-C and then he turns on the tuning tone through the PA and we make as much noise as possible.

More on the Hess later on.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tales From MI - Chapter 3

Day one isn't quite done yet.

On day 1 we were introduced to the wonder that is Digital Drumming. Going into the class, I didn't quite have a clue what it was going to be about. Turns out it's about playing in the world of modern music with backing tracks and loops and stuff. Perhaps one of the most important classes I've taken here at MI.

You listen to all those pop tracks that come out on the radio - even when there's live drums being played on it, there is still so much effects and loops that are going on in the tune. Essential information. So begins my struggle to play with a music loop and a backing track.

This was also the class where I began practicing my skill of identification. I've heard countless times of the idea of something 'ahead' or 'behind' but never quite sat down and made myself do it. So this is where the fun began and gosh it was hard.

But the greatest thing about this class was meeting my teacher for the first time - Donny Gruendler.

The man himself. No shortage in the amount of jokes told in class, no shortage of fun. He's an awesome instructor and gets the lesson across really well. Really glad to have been under his tutelage.

And no shortage of 'Storytime with Uncle Donny'.

Cheers, Donny G.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tales from MI - chapter 2

We're still in Day 1 of MI. The fantastic fun didn't stop at stumbling in reading class with the Hess. Oh no, the fun was just about to begin.

Welcome to RSW1 - rhythm section workshop 1.

The very first class that we were to play with a live rhythm section. My teacher was Andy Megna (who is unfortunately the only teacher I didn't manage to get a picture with in the last weeks of school) and he was a monster. He played at our little 'welcoming orientation' thing so I got a glimpse of just how great this man was going to be.

They plonked a chart in front of us. It was the simplest of things, but it would later turn out to be the crucible in which all drummers would stumble and fall. It was the Billy Jean groove - that's 1 and 3 on the kick and 2 and 4 on the snare. Every drummer knows this groove and every drummer thinks they can play it. Well, we're expected to play it.

Many, or perhaps all of us, brushed it off as a piece of cake. But then we sat down at the drums and tweaked every thing to our perfect adjustment, ready to just show how awesome we were.

And all of us just bombed. The simplest of things - we can't do it.

Which vindicates my belief that that groove is still the hardest thing that a drummer is required to do. Just to do that and make it sound good. Man that was a great wake up call. Our great teachers who wrote the curriculum knew exactly what was going to happen when they gave us that chart and groove. They knew exactly the medicine we needed to show us just how much work there needed to be done. Every weakness was exposed at that point.

I will never ever forget that first RSW class. Nothing short of an eye opener. It made me realise that although I had been playing that groove for the longest time, at that point in time no one would pay me to play it the way I was doing it.

Well, now I see the importance of it. I see just how important that first class was that set the tone for the rest of what I was going to learn. Now I can Billy Jean the crap out of any groove.

But that's not the end of day one. Mr Donny Gruendler is coming up next and that's just the awesome-st thing.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tales from MI - chapter 1

The pictures are going to take a little delay because I've got to get the cable from my friend before they get on my computer. I'll kick off a series of stories, as many as I can remember, with tales from dear MI. I'm gonna miss that place badly. Especially all the great instructors I've had the pleasure of studying under.

I can still remember day one of getting into college. A little nervous I must admit, but that's because at the time, I hadn't been in school for more than 4 years. I'd not had a proper routine of classes for a long time and sitting in the classroom environment after that period of time was a little interesting.

First day of classes took me by surprise. It was Gary Hess' reading class. That man is a machine when it comes to reading rhythms. He wrote the EORR - the encyclopedia of reading rhythms - that we use as our curriculum. He's got ridiculously perfect time and he's a metronome in himself.

That first class caught me off my feet and I stumbled terribly. It wasn't so much that I wasn't able to read. I had the skills and I had the knowledge. It's just that the presence of twenty other drummers in the room banging away at these rhythms and the pressure to not screw up and throw everyone off was just incredible. I tested into level two reading, so the guys who were around me were experienced in the ways of Gary's classes. I, on the other hand, had barely a clue how to keep up.

It took a while for me to get comfortable in there. Soon, my years of reading knowledge began to work themselves back into gear. The cogs of the machine were beginning to move once again. A little rusty, but certainly not damaged in any way. It took a while to get comfortable in Gary's reading class. Thanks to the EORR, or the rhythm bible as we call it, and Gary's whole reading curriculum, I got suited to reading again. And then he comes and throws charts at us. Which once again I wasn't entirely prepared for.

The thing is that I've been trained before. I know what I'm doing. Those particularly brain cells were fast asleep due to years of being idle. Eventually they got working and I started to feel comfortable again.

And it certainly helped that Gary was my private instructor for the first 6 months. But that's another chapter in the....


Tune in for chapter 2.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


And so volume 1 of KJ's American Adventure comes to a close. It has been an amazing 18 months and it has come to a beautiful and satisfying end. This part of my great journey is now complete. A new volume is about to begin.

I've met some amazing musicians from all over the world and I've learned so much from every single one of them. That's the difference coming to a music college like this as opposed to studying privately back home - I may have gotten the same level of training but there is no way I could've gotten the same amount of exposure.

I've seen many of my classmates become phenomenal monsters behind the kit and I've been able to draw from them. There is no better inspiration to practice that the spur of competition. Alongside them, I've managed to establish myself as a worthy adversary and they've kept me on my toes and I've done likewise. I've managed to carve a small little space that I can call my own that no one else can replicate. I'm starting to sound like me.

And that's an awesome thing.

Initially the desire was to do what everyone else was doing and beat them at it. That's what you think when the words 'being the best' come to mind. But it slowly becomes revealed that there is no way in the world that one can achieve that. Everyone is different. Just as I am different from everyone else. There are things that I can do that no one else can. I may not be the best drummer as of right now in certain things, but there are also certain things that I can kick way more butt than most others.

And that is a lesson you cannot learn anywhere else.

It has been an incredible volume in my adventure. Cumulative hours of practice in these past months goes beyond 2000 easily. I've broken countless pairs of sticks. I actually had a picture of my stick collection, but that was in my camera which I lost.

Yes mum. I lost my camera. Don't ask me how or where because it happened in the final weeks of school and my brain was in no condition to attempt a backtrack of my steps to figure out where I lost it. The bottom line is that it's gone. I'm sorry. It served me well for a year and a half. Maybe it just wanted retirement.

Back to practicing. I've also cracked 3 cymbals in the course of my adventure. The greatest thing I'm going to miss about MI itself is the 24/7 availability of my practice space. I cannot tell you what a joy it is for me to be able to go to school at any hour I like and play drums without worry of noise or time or anything. I can just sit down and play to my heart's content. I work best in the wee hours of the morning despite my mum's constant pleas for me to go home. After 18 months she still hasn't quite realised that it has little or no bearing on my urge to practice up till 4 or 5 am.

Scold or nag if you must, but I think I can still afford to do that now. Especially when my physical condition can still take it.

That's another thing. This experience will never be replicated again in my life. There will never again be a time of such intensive focus on my instrument. Waking up each day, going to class with 15 credit hours of drums. Nothing but drums. Who would've thought that they could create an entire 90 credit program for drums and drums alone. Classes, practice, classes, practice... entire days swallowed up by just drums. Nothing is more fantastic for a drummer. Such joy. Tiring. But incredibly joyful.

I'll be writing a lot more over the next 2 weeks trying to reflect back on the many adventures I've had in school for the past 18 months.

Volume 1 has come to an end. But volume 2 is just beginning. And it's just as exciting. By the sweat of my brow and the strength of the Lord, I will pursue this to the very end. It will be a volume of new challenges and exciting opportunities. It's exciting to see where God will lead me and where He'll put me.

I'll end here for now. There's a lot more to come. I'll end with this little thing I posted on twitter which I would like to repeat. Upon reflecting, I've found that I can come up with some really profound stuff sometimes. I guess the Holy Spirit has His way sometimes.

"If I leave my life in God's hands it doesn't mean I don't need to take care of myself. It means I can afford to fall, and land in His arms."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Chapter slomo

It's a classic scene. By some inevitable circumstance you find yourself stuck in slow motion. The world moves by a lot slower than it normally does, sometimes slowing down to a crawl. You can see every eye turn your direction slowly and some mouths open in slowed down gasps of horror.

The world tilts slightly. Everything starts to go out of shape. Yet your consciousness perceives the world normally. Your hand loses it's grip and you notice the million seconds it takes for that to happen. Your foot loses contact with the ground. You know what's coming. You can feel it. You can see it happening, but there is nothing you can do about it.

Your body is frozen like the time. Your mind races to try and coax your now useless limbs into action. Something has to be done. You will your hands to move into position but they do nothing. They flail about like those whacky waving arm flailing inflatable tube men.

You see the floor closer than ever. The time passes so slowly that you can see every speck of dirt on the floor. You try and brace yourself for the inevitable. You know it's going to hurt.

Then the voice comes.

In slow motion.

'Ohhhhhh nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!'

Or some vulgar variation.

And then you hit the floor. Stinging.

You know?

Well, none of that happened to me.

All that went through my head were two thoughts. Car door. Floor. That was it.

I had a spectacular bike crash yesterday on Hollywood Boulevard. I was riding on my side of the street when this parked car clearly didn't bother looking in his mirrors and flung his car door open. I smacked right into it. I was going at a good speed to.

See, none of that slow motion crap happened to me. All I know was the the interior of his door was orange, and I hit the floor pretty bad. I landed on my back, which makes me inclined to believe I performed a spectacular cartwheel. I have no clue which way I tumbled but looking at the damage done to the fella's car, it had to be amazing.

I was almost completely unhurt save for some scratches on my pinky and my chest. No bruises, no aches in the morning, nothing. The bike came away unharmed too. Which is quite miraculous because the car door was a total wreck. It could barely close properly. I bet if I had put in a little more speed I could have taken the door off. And that would be even more awesome.

See this is how my brain works. After the crash only one thought repeated itself in my mind. Not 'I'm safe, thank God' which should have been it. Not 'oh crap, oh crap, oh crap,' which most people encounter.

No, the thought in my head was 'at least I wrecked his door.'

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chapter chapter chapter chapter

Left for school.
Forgot my mac adapter.
Raced back home.
Left keys at school.
Raced back to school.
Raced back home.
Raced back to school.
Out of breath.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chapter R.I. not so P

No I haven't died.

I've been busy.

With stuff.

So here's some things to keep you informed.

I'm moving at the end of the month.

My own room.

The privacy will be most welcome.

While it lasts.

I'm applying to a school in New York.

Waiting for my teachers to write me recommendation letters.

One of my teachers said 'Bleep school. Get out and play.'

Very encouraged by that.

If work finds me in LA then screw New York.

I'd love to go there one day and play eventually.

Final quarter is busy as crap.

I've had little time to go grocery shopping.

Spaghetti and Tamales 4 days in a row now.

Writing my own solo for my final.

Don't think I'm putting as much time as I should into it.

But then again, I've got a lot of other crap to work on.

Question of priorities.

Do I want to sit and write for a final grade worth 2 credits?

Or do I want to practice stuff that will make me more badass?

Priorities. They are tough.

Some pictures coming up later.

Went to see one of my teachers perform.

Crazy amazing stuff.

Hopefully I'll get a gig like that someday.

Printing some business cards for the future.

And a whole bunch of other crap.

Recording some more demo tracks.

Have you checked the myspace page?

Missing home.

Missing friends.

Missing my TeenStreet gang.

Circle of Trust.

Missing Ramadan food.

But having a blast.

More to come later.

I haven't died.

Check the new blog -

Yes I said I was busy.

A man needs a hobby to stay sane.

Mine's writing.

So that's what I put that up for.

Not that I have too much time on my hands.

Which I don't.

But have fun and try to sing along.

Happy Merdeka Day.

Sing my Jalur Gemilang version on that special day.

Until next time.

Which won't be too far away I hope.

I'm not dead.

I'm surely alive.

I'm just playing drums.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chapter 88 - New Music

Lots of new music added to the myspace page.

I'll link some of it here, but there's a handy little myspace link on the right side so head on over and check it out.

I'm particularly proud of my 'Alianza' recording.

More coming your way!

Chapter D - The scare.

My brief scare with death. Well, not death. But close. Well not very close.

This just occurred minutes before writing this.

Squeamish people please stop here. Also parents please stop here too. Or read and just be quiet and please don't nag. It's not as bad as I make it sound.


Doctors Log.

Patient was in Drum Lab packing up equipment.
Patient exited Drum Lab and proceeded to unlock locker.
Patient noticed that there was liquid on his folder.
Patient noticed blood.
Patient didn't feel wound at all initially.
Bleeding profusely from small wound in the finger.
Patient went to wash wound and found small scratch.
Patient discovered metal shards inside wound.

Patient attempted to remove by running water.
Shards were stuck firmly in flesh.
Patient quickly retired to apartment.

Tools were sterilized - needle and tweezers - in boiling water.
Doctor proceeded to examine metal shards.
First two shards were removed with ease.
Final shard remained deep in wound.
Doctor continued to attempt to reach it.
Attempt abandoned due to fear of pushing shard deeper into wound.
Doctor braced patient for alternative attempt.
Skin was pierced from opposite direction with needle in order to reach the shard from the opposite direction - not the entry of the wound.
Shard was pushed close to surface.

After 15 minutes of tension, final shard was finally removed.
Patient writes blog.
Doctor needs a beer.



I don't know how I got those shards in my finger. It was definitely from my cymbal. I will have to inspect it closer tomorrow when I'm not panicking.

That was a real scare. It's not like removing splinters. These things are crazy sharp and they cut really deep into the skin. Thankfully my doctor skills have saved my life.

I nearly freaked the crap out. So bad that I was looking for '24 hour doctors' online.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chapter 1776 - Picture post

4th of July pictures!

Attempt at artistic out of focus background shots!

Dinner at friends place with authentic chinese food shots!