Thursday, March 21, 2013

Brand New Recording. Brand New Rules.

You may have heard our new demo up on the splash page of our web site; and while we're proud of ourselves for learning how to record demos and use our studio gear, it seems the forces from the musical heavens are telling us to focus on playing with our toys (guitars/drums/keyboards, etc).  We're not sound engineers, but it is fun messing with recording gear in the P&B home studio.  In the last few months, we've written so many songs, we don't even know what to do with them.  There are at least 19 new ideas as of now and I doubt we are going to be stopping there.  These tunes are so new, we don't have titles for them.  We'd never actually call a song 'Taco Bell Song' or 'Legend of Zelda Song' (#13 and #18 in the pic).  Right as we were scratching our heads trying to figure out what to do with all these new ideas, our friend Julio, who happens to be a very talented sound engineer/producer/musician, expressed an interest in recording our new material.  While we had no intention of recording official new material anytime soon, it sounded like a fun time and we didn't see any harm in being spontaneous and trying this out.

So, last Saturday night, we dove right in.  This will be our first official recording in over a year and a half and there are at least 5 reasons we can think of why this is an exciting experience:

1)  It's all brand new.  Everything.  Our songwriting process, the recording process, and even the music we're creating doesn't resemble the Pinto and the Bean we remember.  As you know, we took a good six month break from making music, and the band almost fell apart; but somehow, that break really helped us bond in a new way as songwriters, band mates, and friends; it's all a new dynamic now, and a brand new journey as a band.

2)  It's just plain fun to be recording a brand new song; it's so new, we don't even have finalized lyrics or a title for it yet.  To give you an idea, it's got some badass drumming and weird guitar tricks we haven't used before as well as new keyboard sounds we've been experimenting with; we played this tune at our recent Empty Bottle gig and saw a bunch of people shakin' their booties, so that's a good sign.  

3)  We're recording this song with a sound engineer/producer we've never worked with before, which will ultimately alter the overall outcome/sound/vibe of our music.  Paul has recorded a catalog of solo music with Nick (the producer/engineer of our album 'The Waiting Place' and director of 3 of our music videos) for several years; while a lot of great recordings came from our experiences with him, it's wonderful to move on and experience the recording process in a brand new way with a different perspective on things; it's a whole new direction we haven't gone in before.

4)  We're already halfway done with the recording of our new tune, which is pretty amazing.  This process is going by at record speed, which is not something we're used to.  Not to say that getting things done so quickly is right or wrong, but different is always a good thing.

5)  We'll let you know as soon as it's done of course.  Make sure you're signed up to our mailing list for that and you'll be hearing from us soon.

Julio, engineer/producer or our new song, in the P&B living room doing some mad mixing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Paul's Stab Wound and 34 Stitches

I've never been in a serious accident in my life until a little less than two weeks ago.  I guess it wasn't too serious (well actually it was) but I remember thinking to myself while they were operating on me in the hospital how one minute you can be totally fine, and 10 minutes later you might just be surrounded by doctors preparing to sew 34 stitches into your lower back for a "stab wound".  No, I wasn't actually stabbed but that's the status they told me it falls under.  In fact, they kept asking me "how did this happen?" and I honestly didn't know.

Well, let me back up a little bit here.  It was two nights before our Empty Bottle gig (which was a ton of fun BTW and thanks to those of you who came out to support our first show in over 6 months...if I wasn't moving around too much on stage, you'll soon know why).  So, we spent the night rehearsing the new songs and preparing for the show.  I wish I could remember the exact order of events must have been around 11:30pm when we finished practicing...Ivan and I were having a conversation and I just remember walking into the room and feeling something sharp rub up against my back, and I jumped onto his futon.  Then I touched my back with my hand and there was blood all over my fingers.  Guess what I did next?  I started to FREAK OUT!  And when I told Ivan "I think I need to go to the hospital", he took a look at my back and he REALLY started freaking out.  I  knew right at that moment that this was bad.  Ivan started scurrying around to get a jacket, my puppy Truman was running in circles barking like a nut and obviously scared; he hadn't seen this kind of insanity before; Ivan gave me a towel to wrap around my back.  I could see blood just gushing onto the floor.  Luckily I wasn't in much pain (possibly from the few tequila shots I had earlier in the night?), but the amount of blood coming out of my body was grossing me out and scaring me at the same time.  We still had no idea what it was that could have caused something like this, but it didn't matter right then.

So we jumped in the van; Ivan drove me to Saint Mary's Hospital and we went directly to the emergency room; I was still wrapped in this towel which I'm certain will never be used again.  Luckily this hospital is just a few blocks from my place so we got there probably 10 minutes after this bloody mess happened.  Now, I can understand Ivan freaking out at whatever the hell my back must have looked like, but seeing the faces of the hospital staff didn't exactly comfort me either.  They all just asked the same question, "how did this happen?"  I don't know how this happened but I'm going to find out as SOON as I get back home.  At that moment I was thinking that maybe Ivan had some sharp/pointy object on his futon, like a knife or scissors or something and that I possibly cut myself when I jumped onto it.

So they take me to an operating table and start pouring water over this "wound" to clean it and keep it from getting infected; I asked, "how bad could this possibly be?" and one nurse just said "You know how when you open a biology book and see a really horrific open wound?  That's what this looks like.  It's really bad and it's about 5 inches long"  I guess that's all I needed to know.  From that point on, they numbed me with several injections and immediately started sewing me back together.  The nurse said I would be getting a minimum of 30 stitches and also a CAT Scan because this wound was so deep, it would require additional X-rays to ensure my kidneys or lungs weren't also hurt in any way.  In fact, the wound was deep enough to be labeled "stab wound".  Luckily, the CAT Scan results turned out to be fine; I ended up getting 34 stitches - 16 deep stitches and 18 skin stitches.  Well, after two hours of being at the hospital, I was sewed back together and ready to go home and rest (and take painkillers of course, but honestly, I never felt much pain in the first place - I'm guessing because of the location of the wound).

So, if you've read this far, you're probably interested in knowing what it was that caused all this.  Ivan searched and searched until he found out exactly what was responsible for this 5 inch gash in my lower back.  The doorknob of the room where this happened is made of glass and it was broken into an awkward and sharp looking piece; there was an obvious bloodstain on the sharp pointed corner of it and it's at the same height that my stitches are at if I'm standing up, so the mystery was solved.  I must have rubbed up heavily against this sharp corner of the broken doorknob when I walked into that room earlier.  Ivan found the other half of it on the floor.  When and how did this doorknob even break?  That's a good question.  It's amazing that something we use every day is capable of causing a 'stab wound' and most likely a permanent scar.  But I'm feeling okay and the stitches will be taken out this coming Monday.  I'm hoping it's not infected in any way.  I've been cleaning it and putting Neosporin on it each day. Anyhow, that's the story of the week :-)  I know it's not very music related for a band blog, but hey, the incident did happen right next to our practice space...and on that note, it's time to get back to recording.

Yeah, not the prettiest thing
but I'd rather see this than what it
must have looked like when it was open

Thursday, February 7, 2013

We've Got 3 New Bandmates!

Yep, we got some new band members.  They aren't necessarily human though.  In case you didn't already know, Ivan is a major keyboard junkie and he quickly falls in love with the right set of keys.  He has an obsession with some very specific keyboards from the 1980's, and well, he recently got these sweet babies.  Well, they actually aren't babies since they're so old...well wait, one of them IS a baby...check em out.

Ivan: This is one of my dreams come true; I grew up listening to 80's music and this is one of the guys that helped mark a definitive sound of those years.  I feel butterflies in my chest every time I hear its sweet sounds.  This is my new lover named JUNO - yeah, Juno-60 Roland and I'm going to play with him a lot and we're going to make music together.....I LOVE JUNO TO DEATH.

Ivan: This is another new lover; I hope Juno doesn't get jealous; I have enough love to give to both of them; this handsome guy is the DX7 Yamaha, but i call him Yami D.  It's another amazing synth that added a very specific sound to the 80's.  Many people consider it to be one of the best syths ever made, which I AGREE with.  I'm super excited to play with Yami D and obviously we're excited to make music together too.

Paul:  Oh yeah, so this last one isn't a keyboard...when Ivan gets birthday gifts for his friends, he tends to defy all expectations.  Well, this past year, when I opened up Ivan's gift, there was a little rat in it.  I was flabbergasted to say the least...and I thought to myself, "Wow, a rat!  Cool!  Thanks Ivan!"  So the rat grew, and eventually one day, through the biological process of metamorphosis, it became a little dog.  A close contender for a name was Elvis, but he ended up being named Truman.  And now, he wags his little stump-tail when we rock out in the practice space.  He'll play bass in the band when he's old enough to get into the bars (he's only 6 months old currently).    

Reminder folks - our first show in over 6 months is this Tuesday night, February 12 at Empty Bottle!  It just so happens to be our favorite music venue AND it just so happens to be a free show!  But it's ONLY free if you RSVP by clicking this link and following the instructions on the page.  You MUST RSVP before midnight on Monday night, February 11 in order to avoid paying an $8 cover.  Sorry for all the capitalized words, but we'd love to see you at the show, and we'd hate to see you pay a cover if you don't have to.  See you Tuesday night!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2012 - The Year of Change

Life is, for the most part, pretty unpredictable.  As much as you're sure you have a grasp on the future, the unexpected is to be expected at any moment.  You could meet the love of your life on the train tomorrow.  You could lose the best friend you ever had today.  You might win a trip to Disney World the next time you look under a Pepsi bottle cap (does Pepsi even give away Disney World vacations?).  You might fall and break your leg the next time you head to the bathroom (which would be pretty embarrassing).  Circumstances are unpredictable.  People are even more unpredictable.  Such a complex species...humans...

2012 demonstrated itself to be a year of change.  Some experienced incredibly positive change in their lives while others went through some very dark times.  You can decide whether or not this had anything to do with the energy shift on our planet.  According to the Mayans, it wasn't the world that was ending in 2012; rather, a major change was happening in the collective human spirit.  Is there a truth to this?  I don't know, but what I CAN say with certainty is that I witnessed more people go through major life changes in 2012 than I've ever seen before.  It was pretty crazy.

Speaking of change...where has Pinto and the Bean been?  The last show we played as P&B was back in July of 2012.  If you're on our mailing list, you received our newsletter regularly.  We were pretty hip to the happenings of facebook and twitter.  You could find us hanging out regularly at various local venues checking out different bands.  Then bam...we were just gone...why?

Shit happens.  Life's a roller coaster ride and that's pretty much the best answer we can give.  You could say we took a break from our music and from ourselves, and to be honest, there was no telling whether or not we'd be coming back.  Ultimately, battles were won, and here we are because we still care tremendously about the music we create and the people who support what we do.  Many of you have become close friends; you know who you are.

So, it's 2013; as we slowly emerge from a twilight zone that closed out 2012, we're excited to say that we're writing and recording new music...not to sound cheesy or anything, but having disconnected from the music scene for so long, we feel like a new band...not really like 'Pinto and the Bean' - but more like...'Peanut and the Butter'....yep, there goes the had to come out at some point.  But seriously, something feels different in everything we do now, and we don't know whether or not you'll like it; we don't even know what the future holds for us.  But, for the first time, we're completely on our own as musicians; we have no producer or engineer holding our hands during the creative process or influencing our decision making...we've just got ourselves, our home studio, and about 20 new song ideas which we're working with.  Many of them have been turned into raw demos, which we're super excited to share with you soon.  In fact, head on over to the 'enter' page of our site to listen to a quick minute long snippet of an untitled new song.  When my dad took a listen to some of the demos, he said "now you're writing music for people over 30.  Hmm...okay...well, why don't you decide for yourself?

We're taking the stage for the first time since July
next month.  Our good friends Radiant Devices (a post punk band whose live performance is unlike any other we've ever seen) have invited us to perform with them at our favorite venue Empty Bottle on Tuesday, February 12.  It's a birthday party for their singer Mojdeh and also the band's new single release   It's the first time in a LOOOONG time that we're gonna get loud, so mark your calendars.  We're hoping to have a few of our new song ideas polished enough to perform at this show.  As always, contact us with any questions or visit for details.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Night Rider Official Music Video Release

Hey ghouls and goblins and all other creatures of the night.  SCROLL DOWN BELOW TO CHECK OUT OUR LATEST MUSIC VIDEO FOR NIGHT RIDER.  It's crazy how quickly it ended up online.  This video was conceptualized, filmed, edited, and released in less than 2 weeks which sort of blows our minds.  Special thanks go to the amazing Andy, our good friend and brain behind the video.  He suggested we film it at an old abandoned church in downtown Gary, Indiana, so we headed out there one Sunday afternoon and shot the whole thing.  Although we had planned quite a bit of the video in advance, we were awestruck by the overall creepy vibe of the church and ended up just being quite spontaneous as we ran through the church like it was our own personal playground, searching for locations to film different scenes.  We also want to thank our good friend Jazz who spent so much of her time getting us all dolled up with makeup and to our friend Adriana, singer of Wonderland Honey, who plays the gimp (remember Pulp Fiction?) in the video.  Lastly, but certainly not least, thanks to our good friend Johnny for helping us out throughout the day with various tasks.  In an upcoming blog, we'll post pictures from that day and soon a 'making of Night Rider' video.  But for now, Happy Halloween.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A New Life Begins

Howdy folks - this is Paul - I've given permission for my emotions to control the content of this blog entry today; if you're not in the mood for anything deep, then I suggest reading it some other time, or just skipping it altogether.  I guess you could say I'm in somewhat of a strange mood because a chapter of my life came to an end today - and I feel it strongly now.  I never thought I'd cry as I left work, but today, walking down the stairs and out the door for the last time, I couldn't help it.  Tears filled my eyes as I got into my jeep and drove away.  Although I'm super excited about the adventure that lies ahead, I sit here questioning what I'll miss of my past.  In case you're wondering what on earth I'm talking about, let me back up for a moment - I've been a Bilingual/ESL teacher for Chicago Public Schools since 2005; I've made a very good living in this profession and I truly feel lucky to have been able to survive as well as I have.

But in early January of this year, you could say I "woke up".  It occurred to me that I couldn't exist every day in this comfortable life anymore.  It's not that I don't like being a teacher.  In fact, I often have a blast with my students.  It's an incredibly rewarding job, especially when you witness the positive impact you've made on other people's lives.  And it's not like I'm trapped in a corporate America 9-5 cubicle.  Being a teacher allows you to get creative and be spontaneous.  I decided it was NOT the teaching that I disliked.  It was my lifestyle that really brought me down.  Throughout college, I told myself I would never fall into the trap of becoming a part of the "real world"...and then one day, I found myself living there quite cozily - and for some time, I really enjoyed it.  It's easy to get used to a consistent paycheck and benefits that give us peace of mind, but the truth is, I never set out in life to have those things.  All I ever wanted was to make music that moved people and to one day do that for a living.  In some ways, I feel I've gone backwards, but when I really think about it, I know that becoming a teacher helped me grow as a human being; I feel it has given me a reason to be humble about the journey I'm about to take.

So, I've decided to leave it all behind.  I thanked my boss for the opportunity to teach at such a great school.  I said goodbye to my students.  I'm disconnecting from a world that many people think I'm crazy for leaving, but it must be done.  The biggest changes in life happen when we force ourselves to step outside of our comfort zones.  The thought of spending every single day working on music is what's always made me feel alive.  There is no denying that, but I found a safer place to live for years - and now it's time to head out on a journey into the unknown and see the world from a new perspective.  There is no guaranteed paycheck where I'm going and there are no benefits to keep my mind at ease.  Musicians sure do have it tough, and maybe that's why so many give up and find jobs in other fields; creating music becomes a memory of their youth or simply a hobby.  I guess the thing with me is that I refuse to ever let that happen; I am determined to find a fulfilling life doing what I love.  Part of why Ivan and I work so well together is because we are both crazy dreamers that don't let the reality of the world get the best of us.

To close out this blog today, I want to share one of the final lessons I taught students during the last days of school; several of us read the book "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"  As you know, Pinto and the Bean's album is called "The Waiting Place", and it's named after a pivotal part of this book.  When I asked my students what they felt "The Waiting Place" was, quite a few of them really understood the metaphor - it's a place where we've stopped chasing after our dreams; it's a place where we've decided to get jobs we don't really want; it's a place we've chosen to wait for someone else to save us when in fact, only we can save ourselves.  I loved hearing these responses from the kids and I let them know that I've been in my own waiting place for quite some time.  They needed to understand that I'm not leaving them because I dislike them or I dislike teaching.  I'm leaving because I woke up one day and realized it's just time to move on and do exactly what it is I've always wanted to do.  Some of them bought copies of "The Waiting Place", which I thought was pretty funny.  But when I think of it, our album really is a mirror of exactly what is about to happen and it's pretty exciting.  Today is my last day as a professional in the real world.  Everything that lies ahead is unpredictable.  The adventure is just beginning.      

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Birth of Our Band

One wintery day in 2009, Ivan was headed off to O'Hare airport to jump on a plane to visit family for Christmas; right before he took off, he said something along the lines of "why don't we start up a band as a duo?  Things will be easier if we just start something on our own without relying on other musicians to be on the same page as us."  We came to this realization that the two of us alone could create a band we were passionate about.  So when we started it up in early 2010, we didn't really know what direction it was going to go in musically.  We only knew that our songwriting styles and our voices worked well together; the combination of those two elements would be enough to build the structure of this with an acoustic guitar, a drum set, and our voices, we started Pinto and the Bean.

As song ideas were born, we felt like getting a bit more experimental with what we were doing; Paul thought it would be interesting to take his acoustic guitar and morph it into something different by running it through an effects pedalboard; so he started shopping for guitar pedals - Ivan thought about turning his drums into an acoustic/electric hybrid set so he purchased an 80's Simmons electronic drum kit (one of the first electronic drum kits ever made).  We bought a microKORG (you've probably seen a band or two or a million use this because it's an incredibly badass little toy).  Plenty of other musical contraptions were also purchased along the way.  So, to make a long story short - some weird sounds/effects started creeping their way into an otherwise raw/acoustic band.  We eventually started playing shows with these new toys and sounds; later we recorded the songs for our album 'The Waiting Place'.

One of the songs on our album is a ballad called "Wake Up" and it happens to be a favorite among many of our fans.  If you don't know the song, you can download it for free by signing up on our mailing list in the upper right hand corner of this screen.  We recently noticed one of the top search terms for our web site is "Pinto and the Bean Wake Up Lyrics"...which is interesting because we didn't realize people were searching for our lyrics (Did you know all our lyrics are hand written in crayon?  You can find them on the music page of our web site).  "Wake Up" was actually the first song we wrote together; we hadn't really decided to officially start a band yet but we were experimenting with songwriting anyway.  Ivan had a vocal melody idea and chord structure and he had a general vision of what he'd like the lyrics to convey.  So we worked on writing the song.  Now, you may know 'Wake Up' from our album, but did you know there's a version we recorded with Ivan playing percussion on a garbage can lid?  There's some piano in it and other odd instruments as well; when we listen to our album version next to the original recording, they are so completely different - almost like two different bands.  Head on over to the secret page of this site to take a listen to the original recording.  We just posted it and we'd love to know what you think.  Anyway, do we talk too much?  We'll stop rambling now.  Talk to you soon :-)