RPM Challenge 2013: Start Your Songwriting and Recording Engines
Besides being Black History Month, did you also know February as its much lesser known monthly monicker Heartworm Awareness Month? National Pet Dental Health Awareness Month? Termite Awareness Month? Sinus Pain Awareness Month? That last one was moved up from March, presumably because we needed those three less days to be aware of sinus pain.
And it's also RPM Challenge Month, where recording artisans from all over the world pledge to a website started by a bunch of folk in Portsmouth, NH, that they will record an album (defined as "10 songs or 35 minutes of original music") from start to finish in the shortest month of the year and mail it in to RPM headquarters by March 1. Finishers win absolutely nothing for their efforts except bragging rights and they may lose some friends and relations along the way who cannot deal with this concentration of inspiration for an entire month. We have ten Arizona signups as of now with more sure to follow and on Thursday, March 21, at the FilmBar, these artists will unveil their works as part of that evening's Nerd Nite festivities.
Who will finish? Who will fold? Who can say?
Mike Red (Michaelred56)
The trombonist for Sunorous has tentatively titled his album The Never Endeavor. Says Red, "I will be tracking improvisational electronic ideas on the iPad this week, using a DAW app, with most tones created using audiobus, ikaossilator, loopy HD, impc, samplr and magellan... plus whatever I think of on the fly."
Got that? Already the Challenge may be getting to him. On his blog on Saturday, February 2, 2013, he posted this message: "I am starting to realize 'normal life' might be working against me on this challenge. I'm also realizing that 35 minutes of an 808 kick drum at 115 bpm might be my submission. Maybe I'll have time to separate it into 10 tracks."
Last year's Challenge was the impetus for David Marquez (Sweetbleeders, Colorstore) and Zach Vogt to start a side project, and Episodes turned out a great album of moody dance soundscapes named after a popular misspelling of Millennia, namely Millnnia.
This year, under pseudonyms like Hideo 8, Yojimbo Billions, and Walker Boson, Episode are promising another foray into Astrofunk.
"For more than twenty years, Sha-Pink has been an on-again-off-again fixture in the Phoenix, Arizona music and art scene," reads their bio, but bandmates Darrin Robertson and Jimmy Saccoman have been consistently "on" as far as RPM Challenge is concerned. This is their fifth consecutive year, hallmarked by last year's entry, presumptuously named Thriller and containing songs with titles already made famous elsewhere like "Get Jiggy Wit It," "I Just Called to Say I Love You," and "Rolling in the Deep."
This year Sha-Pink go into their challenge with no overarching themes. "I get so frustrated working with Darrin that I'm just happy to get 10 songs of any form," grouses Saccoman, who usually does a solo project as well under the name QUBIQ (pronounced Cubic).
Although Fatigo has been a local fixture for over a decade, Montoya recently relocated.
"I live in Bisbee now so I might use some local help...Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl live here so they might make some cameos," says Montoya of his first RPM Challenge, using the name ERSKY. What can we expect it to sound like?
"Well I'm trying to keep an open mind, but definitely some nods to Orbison and also some '90s influence." On day one, Montoya posted a picture of the first song he's written for the Challenge, entitled "Trailboss."
The Bohemian Club
Last year a faulty computer crash prevented Andrew Jemsek from completing his RPM Challenge but this year, with the help of brother Tristan and James Hanna, his new project, The Bohemian Club, seems determined to cross the finish line with an album.
"We play high energy '60s inspired rock and roll and frequently travel out to a remote part of northern California, a couple of hours outside of San Francisco in the Redwoods," Jemsek says.
"There, we engage in a number of satanic rituals involving burning corpses, resurrecting demons, and playing some sick fuzzy guitar riffs with snotty vocals. In this RPM Challenge we will only be recording songs that appear to us in visions during these rituals in the grove."