Artist Name – Kranky Tank and the Fixers
Song Title – Sarah
Genre – Folk Jazz -Indie Folk
Release Date – 9/10/18
Kranky Tank and the Fixers – Sarah
Brief us on how to impress fans during a live performance.
There is a magic that happens with fans when the artist can convey that real feeling into the performance. Calm comes over the crowd to the point of being able to hear a pin drop in the silent moments. It is a tangible feeling that I find comes when you can put yourself into the moment. Experience that slice of time again that you are singing about. Be real, and feel the music. That energy makes it to the fan. I believe everyone has heard fans say,” They are playing my song”… they say this for a reason. It makes them feel like someone else has captured their feelings, musically. It gives them the energy they can identify with. You are telling their tale and singing their feelings. That is so uncommon nowadays. It’s like we have all suffered the years of the drought of the over-commercialized music product, to the point that when something fresh and real comes by, it is like spring rain that brings life back to the soul. Plato said, “Music gives soul to the universe.” I use this as my guide writing… no soul… then it is background noise.
List the names of your biggest supporters.
At this stage of our venture, it is each other and our families. Reverbnation curated one of our tunes… I see that as a nod of support.
Explain what has motivated you so far in your music career.
Personally, music has always been a part of who I am. In the beginning, my parents said: “don’t do music… you will starve”. That derailed me for 35 years because I did not believe in myself. Ultimately life steered me back to where I am today. That was a long and difficult road. Not trying to sound cliché but the truth is the truth and I think the term cliché’ makes the truth easier to ignore maybe no matter how true it is? A career in music is a struggle, but… life is a struggle at some point? Experience has taught me that nothing of worth comes easy… success isn’t about just talent as much as it is about tenacity. Lots of talent out there going nowhere because of preconceptions/expectations. You got to love what you do and have a sense of continual improvement, knowing you can always do it better, and then do it better and better… just don’t quit.
Discuss your experience as an artist.
I started music in the 5th-grade band on the cornet. Boring! Band taught me the discipline to perform. Choir trained my ear. Jazz taught me to reach and explore. As a child, my mind was always firing off musical ideas like I was living with a soundtrack running in the background. Had a photographic memory. By the time I was in high school I was taking mostly music classes, including AP Composition and Theory. Here and in Jazz, I learned to put a name on what I was hearing in my head already, so as to convey an idea. I had a chance to go and study jazz in college but got derailed with the idea I was not good enough, followed by falling in love with a ticket to hell, who is affectionately referred to now as my very ex-wife. The ex part feels good to hear still and it has been 25 years. The tidal wave of life hit. Music was reduced to sitting in for guitarist in local bands, playing at church…most of the time, life got in the way of real music. At 37 years of age, I was taking my wife’s lunch at 11 pm. She worked as an RN at an ER. Got to the parking lot. Put the truck in the park. Felt a palpitation in my chest, then a pain moving up my neck, then headache, then vertigo. Looked like I was swirling into the steering wheel like a batman segue. Then the sense of dread… you know you are in danger of dying. I made it to the ER after my vision cleared. A massive deep vein thrombosis (DVT) had moved from my calf, busted up in the heart, and I believe the term is bilateral pulmonary emboli settled into my lungs, which looked like a Christmas tree with blood clot ornaments all over the place. Not knowing it at the time… I forgot how to play guitar in a matter of minutes. Lost left-hand coordination. Forgot a lifetime of music I had written… it was all in my head. Pieces of memory have come back, but the coordination hit a speed ceiling… can’t even think that fast anymore. Everything settled back into my being a singer-songwriter type artist, but I did get one bonus out of the mess. With what memory came back, I can now close my eyes and go back to that moment, Feel the feelings, smell the smells, taste the tastes, and experience the emotions of the moment. Got a built-in muse now. Unfortunately, the ex managed to make it back in there too. Tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor. Got back on the music bandwagon. I started teaching guitar to help me relearn. Started writing again. I went to Nashville to meet with my songwriting mentor. He liked three out of four of my songs, so I figured it is time to get serious about it again. So, here we are talking about a song I produced with my friends.
Tell us the biggest mistake you have ever made in your music career.
Discuss the story behind the song.
When I heard the song “Sarah”, I heard the magic in it. Michael has a bit of a Neil Young sound and good energy in his performance…I asked Michael about publishing and recording the piece at my studio. The recorded song is performed by Michael on lead vocal. It was originally written to be a country song, telling a common thread story of being away from home… in this case, about missing being home for his daughter. I heard something different than country in the song musically and arranged it the way I heard it. Michael expected country. When he heard it, I asked what do you think? He hesitated, and then said, “it’s a bit Jazzy… but I like it…” My thinking was as a country song, it would be more like a drop of rain in a thunderstorm of country music. Harder to be discovered; especially with all of the changes in country music today. I kind of think it should be called Nashville music today and leave the title of country to the old school guys. This mix was unique and I had styled it to a way I liked… a back porch, relaxed listening experience, but with a sentiment. A Summer Day with a mixed drink and my feet up.
Tell us how to fund a music project.
I’ve been footing the bill myself up to now, trying to keep as much cash as I can, so to not owe at the back end of things. Putting the money into promoting your best single(s) and generate a revenue stream. Spend where spending is necessary, on things that will turn a profit, dump that into the coffers for your project. Keep your day job till you don’t need to.
Discuss your opinion on the safety of fans during shows and live performances.
That really hasn’t been an issue for us as of yet. Keeping people off of any cables to the mixing board or speaks… a trip hazard. Most of our listeners are not active, ages 25 and up.
Tell us the greatest piece of advice someone has given you as an artist.
I believe that I speak for myself and Michael when I say we consider ourselves primarily as songwriters, and in that light, I got this advice… RC Bannon told me, “You cannot eat art”. If Michael had clung to his original vision of the song, we probably wouldn’t be discussing it today. As a songwriter, you want your work out there, so do not build barriers of pride to prevent your success. If someone wants to pick up your song, make your song in a different style or genre…let them. They want to change a word, let them. In the end, it isn’t a solo act, but you, your band, your producer, your publisher all contributing to your success. Do it alone with rigid constraints, you may never get out of the gates. How few artists do it all? 1 in 1000 that makes it?
Tell us what you will improve or change in your music.
I am always looking for better ways to do everything. I am a recording engineer, mix engineer, producer, and performer. When I recorded in my youth, it was all on tape. Having to learn everything over, plus doing everything on a computer… I am climbing the mountain one step at a time, and am nowhere near the top of my game.
Discuss vocal training and how you protect your vocal.
Always warm-up and exercise your voice. Vocal cords are controlled by muscles. Go running without a warmup; you hurt yourself…same with the voice. Most of the singing is breathing and breath control. Again the muscle. No support of a sustained note and you fall off flat… sounds great in your head but doesn’t cross the finish line that way. Better breath control allows you to not strain your vocals. Push more air; find your timbre and vibrato control and use slight mic distance changes for volume dynamics. Can’t over-emphasize the proper use of vowels in singing.
Discuss your best mood during a performance.
The best way to describe it is you are having fun with your friends. Then you can be you and that works in your favor for the performance. I have been able to make grown men well up on stage with me when I get into the moment and feel the music as I play. If I get all self-conscious, I screw up more. Make singing more of a habit than thought.
State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.
Kranky Tank and the Fixers? I’m pretty easygoing unless my sugar is low. My initials led to the K in Kranky and Tank is my nickname. The Fixers… pull it all into focus… it ain’t a solo act. The name though…It basically just sounded cool and it sang to us. We have people moving away, working other gigs as well, so the band will probably be a bunch of new faces within the year.
List your best artists with reasons.
I rarely listen to music anymore as a songwriter as it tends to stick in my head, then I have to not think about it. I listened to Muse the other day and am still fighting with it in my head. I like what they do. After the DVT, it took my ability to retain names down 80%, so I recall the sounds and some lyrics, and they feel better than who I am remembering who is singing. It sucks, I know. I grew up listening to rock in the ’60s and 70’s…the 80’s I liked less due to keyboards that became dominant, and I do not find them as moving as a stringed instrument, not to say it cannot be moving, just requires the right person playing with feeling, and the ’80s was pretty void of that. Guys dressing up like girls… ugh! Metal just didn’t sit well with me back then; I like it better now I am rediscovering music. Isn’t that weird? Cut “my teeth” musically on Zeppelin, and Kansas, having “Dust in the wind” be the first tune I picked out on guitar, and “Black Dog” on first electric. The Who, Journey, I teach these guys styles to kids to expose them to old rock, today. Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, huge influences, but I will listen to most classical music, anything from Brahms to Samuel Barber, and Jazz it was Mancini that inspired me the most, while Coltrane was my worker bee kind of drive. The pretty diverse palette on music. I always listened to country with my grandfather, loved to play it, but not listen to it. Grandpa taught me to appreciate the old country. My first band was bluegrass gospel music.
Discuss your existence as an artist.
I see beauty in all its phases and aspects of life. I have a sense of gratitude for my ability to see things the way I do. As an artist, I try and point out the obvious beauty in life. Standing on the beach one night in Monterrey Ca, toes in the wet sand, I was looking up to the horizon of the night sky, bristling full of shimmering stars. Life isn’t about me. I went out onto a large rock outcrop over the ocean and sat, and waited for the sun to rise… the sound of the waves continuing to crash into the rocks with relentless violence. I could not calm the waves. Life isn’t about me. The waves continued as I sat and watched. As the light shown upon the waters… the blue… the deep, deep blue, was rising up, crashing into a brilliant white with millions of prisms of spectral colors flashing for what seemed like a painting of eternity. Life isn’t about me. I am playing with my children in the swimming pool. My son, one-year-old, toe-headed, grinning gleefully in floats, splashing his hands in sheer delight and joy. Life isn’t about me. My three-year-old daughter in her red bathing suit, swimming without her floats across the pool for the first time, then grabbing the side of the pool. “Look, Daddy…I swam without my floats” Sunshine beams into her hair and a flash of brilliant copper refracts back up at me. Life isn’t about me. I write a song about losing my best friend. I sing it on stage for the first time with all of the recollections of loss and emptiness I felt, pouring into the performance. My recounting the loneliness after my knowing her… her being gone in the blink of an eye… The man on the stage with me begins to well up and become visibly shaken. Life is not about me. As an artist, I point out all of the beauty I see in life so that others may appreciate this brief existence as I have.
Tell us the greatest problem you think is facing society and the solution.
A lack of civility will destroy any people. I will put it in the context of my country today. College used to be a place of ideas… it is no longer. Berkley students are being physically attacked for having an unpopular opinion. My 14-year-old guitar student is in debate class at school. He came in upset last week, nearly crying as his guitar lesson was right after school. He is a good kid. He was assigned the role of arguing against illegal immigration in this debate class exercise. He looked at the arguments and presents them to the class. Three kids who were arguing for the pro-illegal immigration side, they end up in detention for screaming at the top of their lungs and insulting my student in a very derogatory and demeaning fashion… this done all over an exercise in classroom debate, at this age. That is mere core anger issues surfacing in our children. I explained to him that if they were acting like that, he won the debate because the debate is intellectual, not emotional, and they clearly had nothing intellectual to defend with so they went nuts. He felt better after that and is more confident in class as well. I’m not trying to argue either side of that debate here, but I am pointing out there are many people with many ideas, and all ideas need to be weighed out for facts, compared to history, stripped of emotion, then properly acted upon. Intimidation is used to force an opposing idea out of existence is inherently evil, and at best an anti-American ideal. E Pluribus Unum “From Many One” is an American ideal. “You are with us or against us” is not an American ideal. Separating into camps, polarizing from anger… this leads to war; not solutions. The anger is from feeling powerless, and I believe that comes from the State taking too much power from the people. I get it. I had the wrath of the IRS on me when I was sick, and there was no mercy, grace, or understanding from the IRS. Penalties are ungodly. The due taxes are paid but it is a 20-year sentence digging out of fines and interest. I keep my cool still and try to reason and find a peaceable solution, unlike the dude that flew his plane into the building in Austin. I totally understand his “why”. He got emotionally out of control and ended himself. So how do you teach grown people who were not raised to respect one another, to suddenly respect one another? I know of no solution with adults. Can’t fix stupid and you cannot make someone consider the other side of a situation…that is a choice that prejudice prevents from happening. History shows this trend usually winds up in bloodshed. Looking at America today…it sure looks like history is repeating itself. Look at our founding. Bloodshed over who had the power. If any solution at all… begin teaching real history again? Maybe that might save the country?
Discuss your songwriting and recording.
Songwriting starts with a chord progression that inspires a feeling. This is played until a lyrical impression or subject, based on that feeling is made. I play this over and over to have a melody pop in my head… play and sing the melody until lyrics start to appear. Then refine the lyric. Does it execute well? Is there a better way of saying that? On the lyric I’ll quote Mark Twain: The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. The recording is nothing less than pure, hard work. Anyone saying otherwise needs a really good engineer and a lot of cash.