Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It makes the world go 'round...

This home recording studio business has certainly kept me entertained of late. Not only have I had to finalise three new songs, readying them for posterity, but I have also had to get myself across the software that drives the studio. Every day I come up against an issue that I have no idea about, and needs resolving before I can move on. I am pleased to report that so far, with the help of a little bit of luck and a fair bit of cursing, I have managed to solve the puzzles. The 266 page manual is helpful.
I have also been busy at Songwriters' Workshops, music association meetings, and have performed a couple of times too. And, of course, there's plenty of boring music administrivia that requires attention. Those APRA reports won't write themselves!

Musical adventures are filling my days quite nicely, thank you very much.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Big Wet

We've had an amazing rain over the last 12 hours or so. After a few portentous showers yesterday evening, the real stuff came down in the (evil) dead of night. It's been pouring pretty much ever since. There's been news reports of flooded homes and the like. It is cold, dark and wet. Very wet.
This certainly isn't one of those dry winters.
I haven't been too affected; apart from donning my very cool and really useful old mod parka to put out and retrieve the rubbish bins, I've been inside, making beautiful music!

Monday, June 28, 2010


I spent the bulk of Monday in my little studio. I recorded vocal and 6-string guitar tracks, and spent a bit of time trying to balance the overall sound. As this is a learning process, I was also kept busy re-ordering and re-naming tracks, along with a multitude of other administrative and organisational tasks. If nothing else, this experience has increased my knowledge of the recording software, and of recording generally.
Once I got over the initial challenges, I have very much enjoyed myself. I am hoping that this is something I will continue with. Who knows, maybe the next David Robinson album will be a lo-fi classic, recorded at home!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Penalties, anyone?

I've spent most of today either watching the World Cup or playing/recording music. It's been hard work, but someone has to do it. I did find the time to mow the lawns, and also managed to squeeze in a few other minor chores. I wouldn't want anyone to think I was shirking my domestic responsibilities.
It's been mainly music though. My three songs are taking shape. I would have done more, except I can't really soundproof my room to the extent that the racket emanating from next door's noisy renovations are shut out completely. Sigh...
I am hoping for a decent sized couple of days, recording wise. I don't have much else on my plate, so I am vaguely confident that I will wake up on Wednesday with only the final mixdowns to do.

A late night tonight, England versus Germany. Come on you reds.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday night's alright for blogging...

Another week drifts on by. Winter is definitely making its mark, despite the occasional sunshine. My feet are often cold, but I am not as cold as those who are sleeping rough.
I am finding it difficult to believe that I have had eight weeks away from the existential poison that is office life. It has flown by. It's been great - I have made headway in all of the areas that I have directed my energies towards. Some more than others...
England awaits. In a couple of weeks we will be there. A small matter of 12,000 miles to traverse. Thank Evans we are not travelling on foot. Family and friends, music (perhaps an open mic somewhere), history, walking, football, rugby, cricket, great food and proper beer. Fantastic.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Chariots of the Mods

Today I put into place the final piece of the jigsaw, in terms of my Vespa's restoration. I purchased a couple of mirrors that will be just the ticket, in terms of aesthetic and practicality. Fitting them will allow me to see the traffic approaching from behind without having to twist my head around, à la Linda Blair.
It's been a while coming, but I will make some time in the next few days to attach the mirrors, as well as the the brand-spanking new number plate. Then I'll take the old girl for a spin. Quadrophenia, baby.
I suppose I will soon yield to the temptations of more chrome, in the guise of racks and other accoutrements but, for now, the straight-out-of-the-factory look will do. She is a beauty.
1963 was a good year for Vespas and, quite possibly, a good year for David Robinsons.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Yes, Prime Minister

While I have been immersed in other things, it appears that Australia has a new Prime Minister. I had no idea things were so bad for Kevin Rudd. Worse now, I guess.
I don't draw too much inspiration from our so-called leaders. Don't be fooled, these people are in it for themselves. Politics is just a job, a business. None of them know what it is like to be hungry. Or cold. Most don't seem particularly bright. A talking hat could do a better job of looking after the nation's genuine interests.
I have been far too busy with important matters - music, football and beer - to have been overly concerned with politics of late.
It's all about priorities...

Written and spoken by D Robinson on behalf of the Tired Of All The Nonsense Party.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Shabby Road

Things, to use the technical term, appear to be moving in the right direction.
I had a good night at The Metro last night, groovy music and pleasant conversation, and that only fired me up for some more sonic adventurism upon awakening this morning.
With each step of today's recording I learned a great deal more about Cubase, and how to make it work for me. I'm sure that I am putting square pegs into round holes to some extent, but I still think I'm winning.
The cordless headphones are a bonus, and the little Vox, the drum machine (eek!) and the microphone have all proved worthy. The guitars are behaving themselves. The Maton is, well, a Maton.
The guide drum beats are down, some of the initial 12-string guide tracks are complete, as are a couple of guide vocals. And I have learned plenty.
The best thing about today is that I now really believe that not only will I get these songs recorded, but I will have fun doing it!

Rock and roll!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Recording - finally!

After far too many false starts and stumbling failures, I am very pleased to say that over the last two days I have started the home recording process. My task is simple. I need to record three demos before next Thursday, July 1. If I fail to do this, I will only have myself to blame.
It's a nice room; I am surrounded by my influences as well as my instruments. My Beatles screensaver is a lovely reminder of why I dig music so much.
After a few hours of tedium - setting click-track timings, working out track recording order, reacquainting myself with the software etc I have finally begun to splash musical paint upon the canvas.

Here's hoping for a productive few days!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Journal Entry: Monday June 21

As the sun rose this morning, I suspected that it was going to be a good day. I'd been up for a while, awake at six, clear-headed and feeling quite chipper. All the early signs pointed to it being a good day. A pessimist might have chosen to believe that it was too good to be true. Bad luck, pessimist - not today.
I watched a couple of decent games of football in the early part of the morning; New Zealand getting a point off Italy being the highlight. The Italians are very skillful but far too prone to diving for my liking. I know all teams do it but you'd think some of these guys in blue had been shot. It's embarrassing for them, and bad for the game...
I tucked into some toast and orange marmalade for breakfast, accompanied by my third or fourth cup of tea. I might be a tea-aholic.
I did a few chores, including polishing and applying dubbin to my faithful old Doc Martens, as I'd worn them yesterday. Here's hoping that they last forever. I also managed to dispatch the usual room-to-room tasks without complications. Monty and I went out for a walk, and we were both very well behaved as we strolled in the sun. I also reacquainted myself with my music recording software; not an easy job, but it will be ultimately rewarding. I swapped emails with friends living in various places on Planet Earth, and read the local paper.
In the early afternoon I walked to a friend's place and we split a bottle of wine while we watched The Crow. I'd never seen it and it was so much better than I'd been led to believe... We followed this up with some intelligent and thoughtful conversation (largely on his part); a rare thing that should never be taken for granted. He lent me a CD of Evil Dead: The Musical as well as his DVD copy of Blade Runner: The Final Cut, so there's another couple of treats awaiting...
I walked home in the pale but warm late afternoon sun, stopping to pick up my watch that I'd left at the jewellers for some minor repairs. No charge! I celebrated by buying two $8 Clint Eastwood DVDs, on sale at the newsagent - The Outlaw Josey Wales and Unforgiven. That constitutes a win.
A little further down the road I chatted with an older chap who was taking his evening constitutional. We exchanged greetings and marveled at the lovely sunshine. It occurred to me that too many people would rather look the other way than risk meeting eyes and having to say "hello". What a shame.
Arriving home I made tea - a cheerful melange of lentil-oriented goodness - and had it on the table at the usual time. I fed the dog, spoke on the phone with my Aunty in England, did a few more jobs and now it is just about time to crack a cheeky red and prepare for the latest installment of the World Cup. I might sneak in an episode of The Wire beforehand.

More days like this one, please.

The shortest day

Today is Adelaide's shortest day of the year. The sun will rise in half an hour's time at 7.23, and will set at 5.11. We will have two seconds less daylight today than we had yesterday - a meagre 9 hours, 48 minutes and 18 seconds. Tomorrow, however, will be two seconds longer than today.
So, as of tomorrow, the days will be getting longer, and we will be careering headlong back towards summer.

Shorts on!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday afternoon at the football

There's been a bit of a sporting theme going on here recently, and today was no different. I spent most of the morning catching up on the continuing noise and colour of the FIFA World Cup carnival, before heading out to watch my local Australian Rules team play. I have supported Sturt (the Double Blues) for many years, and they were playing Glenelg, away from home.
I caught the tram down to The Bay and was, as usual, looking forward to the afternoon. Win, lose or draw, I love going to the footy. It is such an effective release from some of the more serious aspects of this mad existence. It is a different, simple, slice of life. It attracts all types of people, all there for more or less the same reason.
I wasn't especially confident that The Blues would win, but I was hoping that it would be the case, as the season might well have depended on it.
I usually get to the ground in time to see the last part of the reserves match, adding another dimension to my football experience. Today was no exception, and the boys had their heads in front when I arrived.
I purchased a beer, located my match-going mate in our usual spot, and settled in. We chatted about the week's events, as well as our expectations for the afternoon. It was sunny and warm, surprising after the previous 48 hours, and a decent-sized crowd had turned out. We were surrounded by people only too willing to share their opinions on all facets of the game with anyone within earshot. I often wonder what some of these people do for the other six-and-a-half days of the week.
It was, unfortunately, a dark day for the club. Both Sturt teams, reserves and seniors, were beaten with the last kick of the match in their respective games. I doubt that has ever happened before in a serious, senior competition. What a miserable way to lose, and to torpedo your season.

That's what I call the Double Blues.

Oh well, I guess it's just football. I'll be back at the footy next week, as will Sturt.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Malaise: my dog is black.

What an odd week it has been. For some reason I haven't been able to get into much at all. Without wishing to drag anyone else's day down into the mire, it has all seemed rather futile. Completely devoid of consequence. On a surface level, things have been pretty normal. Lunches, beers, performances, chores, telly... But there's been an underlying notion that the sunshine and lollipops of this gentleman's life have been compromised.
Whether it is lack of sleep, or something else, I don't know. Most things have seemed to be too much effort. Maybe it is the wintry, bleak weather.
In any event, tomorrow is a brand new week and I am committed to recording some music, planning our UK Tour (!) and knocking off a few other chores.
Just try and stop me, cruel world. Just you try.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Productivity downturn

For the last week I've spent approximately five hours a day watching the World Cup football. I'm not complaining, in fact, I think it's great. It has, however, rather punched a big hole in my normal daily routine. There's no new songs, kitchen activity is down, and the Vespa sits and waits. I pretty much only have time for the perfunctory maintenance-type chores that keep the house going. Mowing, edging, washing, cleaning etc. All of which, I might add, are better than slowly dying in an office.

This welcome interruption will last another three weeks.

Everything is neat and tidy, but there's not a lot of magic happening. Apart from on the football field, of course...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Square eyes and round balls.

It comes around every four years.
It is a time for heroics, supreme athleticism, high drama, romance and joy. It has its share of gamesmanship, histrionics and broken hearts. It makes heroes and villains of men, some of which will be remembered forever. And, when all is said and done, one team will be able to say that they are the best footballers on the planet.
Welcome to the FIFA World Cup.
I watched my first World Cup in 1974, beamed all the way from (West) Germany into my lounge room courtesy of ABC television. I marveled at the skills of Beckenbauer and Cruyff et al as I fought against lack of sleep. All the while trying to come to grips with heady concepts such as total football. There I was, an impressionable schoolboy, sitting in the cold, eating comfort food and drinking tea, trying to stay awake. Completely mesmerised.
I've barely missed a televised match since those days. I was smitten, and remain so.
The 2010 tournament, the first to be staged on the African continent, is underway. It has been a slowish start in terms of thrills and spills, but there's been some great moments nonetheless. I am in no doubt that things will hot up once the results become critical for survival in the competition. It's not even a week old and I have already enjoyed 14 football matches. I think I've spent more time watching the games than I've spent sleeping...
Which is exactly how it ought to be.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Carrickalinga 1996

Doors and windows are open
Breakfast smells abound
All my words are spoken
Nature runs aground
Waiting for the ocean
I dare not make a sound
I fear my brain is broken
There's so much of it around

Copyright © David Robinson 1996

Friday, June 11, 2010

Higher Ground

Last night's SCALA performance event was jolly good fun. I had a groovy time, both on stage and, once I'd finished warbling, as an interested punter. I played some old favourites of mine, as well as a couple of new songs, and I was happy with the way they turned out. I am hopeful that others enjoyed my performance. No-one threw anything at me - always an encouraging sign. I dealt with some interesting sound issues, the late arrival of friends, and some (perhaps) well-intentioned but nevertheless unexpected jibes without flinching.
It was very pleasant to kick back after my show and shoot the breeze with friends and acquaintances, discussing all manner of things. Topics ranged from mod-revival bands to football to Kerouac, and all things in-between.
The crowd swelled gently as the evening progressed, as I looked around I could see bald-headed babies and grey-headed grandparents amongst the happy audience. Truly wonderful. Sharing the bill with Courtney Robb, Cal Williams Jr and The Tangerines was a privilege. I can't believe more people don't make the effort to get out of the house, even on evenings when I'm not playing ;)
Higher Ground has the potential to be the venue for arty-types; I just hope that support continues to grow. It's a cool and friendly place, pretty unkempt but not in an affected way.
I can't wait to play there again.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

From basic yoga to the Baader-Meinhof

It can be a joyous thing to be multi-faceted, to have an interest in many things. It can also be crippling. I remember hearing once that Syd Barrett had so many options, so many ways to apply his genius, that he found it easier to stay in bed rather than make a decision about what, precisely, to do.
I'm no Syd Barrett, so there's not a lot of genius to be applied, but I am happy to say that yesterday was one of those days where I seemed to travel effortlessly through many of the myriad aspects of my life.
I woke up early, too early after a late night performing at The Metro, but I wanted to get up and start my day. As part of my commitment to maintaining a decent level of fitness, I kicked off with some yoga. It's been a good 12 months since I attempted any stretching, so it was with some trepidation that I inserted the beginner's DVD and followed my on-screen instructor's lead. Although she was very kind, it was still pretty tough. Mind you, the backdrop of the beautiful cliffs and crashing waves of sunny Lanzarote helped soften the blow...
After the yoga, I strapped on the guitar and worked through a few songs, in preparation for Thursday's performance. I was also pushing through the week's washing while I was playing away.
Later in the morning I spent an hour or so with James Joyce and Ulysses. I'm still grappling with, but nevertheless enjoying, this weighty work.
Monty took me for a walk, and then I went food shopping.
I watched an episode of The Wire while I ate lunch. The show has been highly regarded by many, and I've just gotten around to viewing it. So far, so good.
The sun poked its head out during the afternoon, and I managed to spend about an hour in the garden, sweeping, raking, tidying and harvesting. I listened to a Curtis Mayfield album while I tidied in the kitchen.
Tea was easy, we had piles of leftover home made pizza so it was a comfort food utopia.
I treated myself to an hour of the high drama and theatre that is the world of professional darts, before watching a pretty good film about the Baader-Meinhof gang.
I went to bed reflecting on the notion that I'd had my foot in many camps through the course of the day, and I felt pretty good with that.

This blog is not, and will not become, a simple inventory of each day; I just wanted to share this particular Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Suburban boy

Weekdays in the suburbs; no pretenders, no nonsense, no mediocrity, no idiots. No backstabbing, no whining, no sucking up. Not in my world, anyway...
With five weeks under my belt I am happy to say that things are just about as I hoped they would be. Most of the catch-up tasks have been completed, and now it is simply a case of splitting my time between day-to-day jobs and the more significant projects, like writing & recording music, planning our overseas trip, and staying fit. Plus a measure of reckless enjoyment. All work and no play, etc etc.
I doubt that I will finish reading Ulysses by Bloomsday, but that's quite OK. I am making progress. Some of our storage issues may take a little longer than expected - that's what I get for having so much stuff, and never throwing things away. The winter vegetable garden isn't booming but, after all, it's winter.
I've felt a bit bashed up physically over the last week; sore elbow, bad hip, and an old soccer injury in my left ankle is making itself known, but that hasn't stopped me from walking into the city a couple of times, going for a weekend bushwalk, and regular (freezing) early-morning stints on the bike (sitting stationary on its rollers).
Open mic tonight, and a gig on Thursday.
Most things are moving in the right direction. Long may it continue.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Man With No Name

This week I have watched Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. It is Clint Eastwood's 80th birthday and some of the cable channels have gone Clint-crazy. I've also watched High Plains Drifter and The Outlaw Josey Wales, while I managed to record a few others. I don't know which of the three classic Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns I've seen previously (it would have been many years ago), but I know I've never watched them back-to-back before. Pretty cool stuff.
It's a tough life, I know, but someone's got to do it.

The only thing is, now when I speak, my voice is out-of-sync with my lip movements.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Our little garden seems to be very popular with the local bird life. Over the years we have gotten very used to sharing our space with the various introduced and native species that come to visit. We have put different types of feeders, and a birdbath, around the place to help attract our flying friends. I often sit out the front waiting for the arrival of honeyeaters, who are fond of the sweetened water left out for them. Presently, the red wattlebirds seem to have gone on holiday. There's not many about. I expect this is a part of their hitherto unnoticed (by me) migration pattern. The same goes for the noisy miners, white-plumed honeyeaters and the newhollands. They all seem to be somewhere else. I guess they will be back to their noisy best in the springtime. I haven't seen a house sparrow for a while either...
The magpie larks are the current rulers of the garden - they are great to watch as they fossick for food, turning circles in the bark and dirt. Making a mess. And a noise!
Speaking of mess, I saw a blackbird yesterday so I guess they will be adding to the untidiness from here on in. I also observed a willy wagtail as he enjoyed a wash and a drink in the birdbath. And I heard a kookaburra!
The spotted turtledoves know when it is Monty's tea time. They sit on the back fence, waiting for me to scatter his biscuits on the lawn, and then they join him on a hunt-and-peck exercise. At a safe distance, of course.
Two welcome swallows are scoping out our carport as a potential dwelling. They don't seem to be bothered by us, and rather like using the car roof as a toilet.
We are also lucky enough to regularly see rainbow lorikeets, eastern rosellas and (I think) musk lorikeets as they cruise the suburbs. Less glamorous, but more common, are the starlings.
A few years' back I saw a collared sparrowhawk attacking a dove. It wasn't all that uplifting, but that's nature I guess.
Birds are cool.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Stark Raving Mod!

When I was younger, so much younger than today, I was a mod.
I suppose I still am, although I am probably not quite as sharp as I might be. I sometimes wonder what 17 year-old David would make of the 2010 version.
It was a great part of my life, coinciding with that awakening that (sometimes) occurs as we pass from childhood to adulthood. New music, good clothes, scooters, and self-respect. Wonder years, indeed.
I am, as many of my friends would know, a part-time scribbler, and my work has appeared in various newspapers, magazines and newsletters both in Australia and England. Yesterday was another great moment, with the arrival of a very welcome package. My literary efforts have now appeared in a 'proper' book - Stark Raving Mod!, put together by Sydney-siders Ariana Klepac and Winston Posters. It has been some time in the making but the result certainly makes me happy. It is a wonderful collection of anecdotes, recollections and photos from those heady mod revival days. Not only do my contributions appear throughout, which is pleasing in a self-centred kind of way, but I truly believe that this tome is at least as good as Richard Barnes' Mods!, an English retrospective released many years ago and still held up by many, including myself, as the benchmark.
The press has been favourable, and the book has its own site. Buy a copy if you are into music, fashion, youth, and/or lifestyle.
Aaah. Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away.

Pick up my guitar and play...

It's been dark since 5.30. It's cold. The roads are still wet from the afternoon rain. Almost everything is shut. City folk have scurried back to their safe haven and shut the door on the world.
Welcome to Tuesday night. Where is the joy?
As good fortune would have it, I am standing outside the Metropolitan Hotel. And it is open mic night.
Inside the warm and friendly pub, familiar faces greet me and chat as I make my way to the bar. We shake hands, I grab a drink, and grab another. We swap tales of the week's adventures, some of them true.
This room is perfect for the open mic. The small stage is ideal. Just enough to separate the performer from the crowd without destroying the intimacy. The setting, complete with mantelpiece and encyclopedia, reminds me of my imaginary great-uncle's drawing room. The open fire adds warmth and cheer. The wallpaper is lush.
The usual suspects, and a sprinkling of new performers, each present three songs for the audience. The eclectic selection skips across almost every conceivable genre and mood. Punters and fellow performers appreciate all that is on offer. It's a good night.
Ten o'clock. The theatre next door empties and suddenly the pub is full.
I grab my guitar. It's time to get it on...