Steve Clayton Blog

A Friend Called Fire

A FRIEND CALLED FIRE.. is a high-octane rock trio hailing from The Windy City. With a foundation based upon an infectious rhythmic assault, the band’s music is a pairing of heavy grooves based in rock and metal influence fused with hooks and melodies both genuine and purposeful. The trio, consisting of Jon Allegretto (lead vocals, guitar), Powers (bass, backing vocals) and Aaron J. (drums, percussion) are quickly making headway in their native Chicago in addition to many regional markets through touring and relentless marketing and promotion. Lyrically Allegretto’s words seek to entice listeners to view their own lives and strive for improvements in the world around them. A Friend Called Fire’s music is the catalyst for songs concerning love and hate, grief and ecstasy, the current state and future of the world we live in and beyond. The band’s explosive live shows prove that much like their name implies, A Friend Called Fire in many ways creates and destroys with passion and power. Think Muse hanging out with Strata and Social D., while on the phone with Sevendust, Breaking Benjamin and Clutch who just left a party at System of a Down’s house that was just crashed by Mute Math in a rebellious frenzy. Or something.

http://afriendcalledfire.net/

Endorsed with Clayton since 2010, Photo by Sarah Scott.

My Amends

Based in Fort Lauderdale, FL, My Amends is made up of of five very talented individuals, each with a long history of playing with bands including Remembering Never, Hiatus, Aeons Apart and Razorblade Romance. Since forming in 2008, My Amends has achieved an impressive list of accomplishments, including sharing the stage with national acts like Poison the Well, Every Time I Die, Remembering Never, Vanna and Straight Line Stitch. My Amends was also the only non-Spanish speaking guests to be invited to the TV show Estrella2. My Amends joined the Ingenious Records roster in late 2009, released their debut EP “That of a Lion”, and premiered the music video for their single “Get Help” at Auteur Explosion Ft. Lauderdale. Beyond these achievements, My Amends’ passionate music also caught the attention of a national non-profit organization, the Human Rights Torch Relay, who approached the band to write and perform a song about persecution against the Falun Gong spiritual practice in China. While working on “That of Lion”, My Amends wrote and recorded a song dedicated to raising awareness about this cause. The song “I’d like you to see” was donated to the public and can be downloaded for free here. My Amends will be touring through the summer and hit the studio this winter to record and release their next album by spring of 2011.

Check out more about My Amends here http://www.reverbnation.com/myamends

Endorsed with Clayton since 2010

Gino DiGeso of Stoned Fire

Stoned Fire is a New York City Classic Rock Band featuring Singer Petar Krsikapa, Guitarists Gino DiGeso & Sean Battista, Bass player, David Alva and Keyboard player Georgios Pesios. Stoned Fire is upcoming rock band that is making a statement in the rock scene. “Once you hear us, you will feel dirty!” See what the NYC venues are saying about us .

“Stoned Fire is the type of band i love to see reppin in this music scene of ours. A Straightup kickass Hard Rock outfit with good tunes and unlimited potential. A perfect example of the kind of band talent the nyc rock underground has to offer to the masses” – Kevin of Ace of Clubs NYC

“Great turnout…very exciting band to watch live a must see! Walter of Trash Bar Brooklyn

“Watching this band play live is like being back in 1966, great band!” Don of Don Hills NYC”

“Stoned Fire are an impressive harmonic hard rock band with a vintage sound that was a refreshing surprise and they also drew a nice crowd.” DJ SuperMorgan, F*Bomb. Delancey

Stoned Fire gives the flash and energy of a time when rock and roll was raw and real in a time where other acts get lost in the ambient noise of most venues. boom! Dan of Turnstyle Music Group (Public Assembly, Uncle Mikes, National Underground)

“Stoned Fire is a standout among young New York City rock bands. Great musicians and creative songwriting make Stoned Fire a fresh new twist on a classic style. Keep an eye and an ear out for them… CT Tamura – Gotham Rocks NYC (Crash Mansion, Gramercy Theater, Bower Ballroom, Highline Ballroom).

http://www.stonedfire.com

Endorsed with Clayton since 2010

9giants

We wanted to share with you that we have just recently endorsed Eric Hulstedt and David Plagman of the band 9 Giants. David has been using our picks for 15 years now! We also wanted to share the band’s bio:

Formed in the summer of 2009 by accomplished songwriters Eric Hulstedt (Vocals/Guitar), Mark Matson (Electronics) and David Plagman (Guitar), 9giants started as a project to complete some of the musical ideas Eric and Mark had created from previous writing sessions. Greg Naylor (Drums) joined on soon after to boost the energy of the live shows.

Drawing from a wide range of influences and production, the 9giants sound is a high-energy mixture of electronics, loops, beats, samples, and guitars.

“Enano”, their debut EP, features their first single “Monster Mouth” which has already gained industry attention. 9giants will release their “Zwerg” and “Purduris” EP’s late 2010/early 2011.

All 3 EP’s were recorded, mixed, and mastered by Mark Matson and 9giants at their world-class studio facility. Mark Matson has engineered and produced music for Sheryl Crow, Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack, Kristine W, Jersey Boys, Activision, and Wayne Newton.

“Our goal is to release a 4 song EP every 4 months.” Says Plagman “We are always writing and recording new material.”

9giants also films and produces their music videos.

“All of us are really into sci-fi, music, film, TV and technology. We love to create in all mediums. We are fortunate to have the ability to explore all avenues of creativity, whether it is writing music or filming music videos.” says Hulstedt “We have surrounded ourselves with highly-creative people who we care about and are having a great time doing what we love.”

I loved their song “Monster Mouth”, and so did a lot of our staff in the custom department we all had it stuck in our heads after listening to it :). They also have a really awesome Dexter based music video for it (just a warning there is some blood in the video) on their website. Check 9giants out at the following links:

9giants Website

Myspace

Facebook

A Guide to Changing your Strings

I once owned a guitar shop, with a repair department, and replaced many guitar strings. Here are a few good tips, I would like to share with you.
Guitar Strings

Removing old strings
Using a string winder, and starting from the low E string, unwind the string, until you are able to
disengage it from the hole in the machine head. Work across the guitar repeating this procedure. This will place the least amount of stress on your neck and body.
Do not simply cut the strings using wire cutters. This method can be dangerous, and places a sudden stress release within the guitar neck. It also makes
for twice the amount of wire to dispose of. Next, using the string puller, ” the notch on the end of the string crank cup” , carefully pull out each string’s peg, keeping track of which peg, came from which string. Wrap
each string back into a circle, and lock loop with one end. Try to make the circle small enough to fit into the envelope, that your new strings will be removed from.
In this way, everything is nice and neat, and there is less change of injury.

Polishing and conditioning your neck
Now is the time to use your favorite guitar polish, and clean your instrument, especially around the sound hole. This is also the time to determine, weather your fret board needs conditioning.
There are many good polishes and fret board conditioners on the market. Personally, I like to remove any dirt and grease that has built up behind the frets. I find that trying to remove all traces
of build up, is unnecessary, and can lead to damaging your neck. Harsh chemicals will dry out the wood, and water tends to swell the wood. So, I just use a clean cloth and gently remove most of the grease, using the fret board conditioner.
Leaving a little grease behind isn’t going to hurt anything. If you get to aggressive, and trying to remove all of it, you may do more harm than good.

Installing new strings
This is the time to find yourself a lead pencil. Before replacing your strings, take the sharp lead pencil, and rub the lead into the string slots on the top nut. This will add a little graphite, and help to release uneven tension when you tune up your guitar. Your guitar will stay in tune better. Un-package your new strings, as needed.  Stay organized. Starting with the bass E string, place the end ball back into the saddle, and orient the slot in the peg to fit the string. Press the peg all the way down while pulling a little tension on the string, with the other hand. You are trying to find the end of your string ball, while pressing the peg into the hole. Take the other end, being careful, wind it around the machine head’s pole 2-3 times, rotating counter clock wise, on the bass side and clock wise on the treble side.   After placing the end of the wire through the hole, pull it tight. Now, begin turning the machine head, placing more tension on the string. No string should be laying over another string. Check to see that the 2-3 windings are holding, and look correctly. Do this with all 6 strings. Using an electronic tuner or pitch pipe, slowly bring the bass string up to full note tension. Do this with all 6 strings. Don’t wast your time trying to tune each string. Relative pitch will work for now.  If your G string is a wrapped, be slow to bring it up to tone. It contains the thinnest core wire within the set and is the easiest to break. Worry about the G string, and then the top E string. Bring all of your strings up to tune, working your way from the bass to the treble. Using a good pair of small wire cutters, cut off the excess wire leaving 1/8′ outside the hole.

Pre-stretching your strings
Your new strings will not stay in tune, until they have had time to stretch out. If you don’t plan to play, tune it up, and leave it for a day or two,  re-tuning when you have a chance. I have rarely done this, as I usually want to start playing. Additionally, I want my guitar to stay in tune, without constantly retuning… Here is a away, to help remove most of the built in slippage from your strings.  Care must be taken, or you will break strings. As the strings become thinner, you must use less pressure.   With your guitar fully tuned to E, place it horizontally on a padded table top, and/or  your lap with the bass string nearest you.  Grasp the bass E string with both hands. The wire should be between your four fingers and your thumbs. Hands spread apart, with approx. a half inch space between your two thumbs, start bending the string.  Pull with your fingers, while bending in the opposite direction. Do this moving up and down the neck. You are working the bindings. You should be very careful bending your G string, especially if it has an outer wrapping. This is the string, which will always break first, until you learn this technique.  Turn your guitar around now, and do the same thing in the opposite direction, starting from high E to low E. Once you have learned this technique, you will be likely use it, as it makes a huge difference in the time it takes to keep your guitar in tune. It might be wise, to purchase an extra single G and E string. In the beginning, your G,B, and high E,  are the strings that break most frequently.

I have been playing guitar consistently for over 35  years, and haven’t broken a string in 20 years. Though in the beginning , I broke them on a regular basis. Remember, take care and be careful. Try to stay organized, you and your guitar will experience less stress. Above all have fun.