Thursday, November 10, 2011

How Steve Jobs made me a rock star...

It's been several weeks since the passing of Steve Jobs, and although I wanted to tell this story when he died I felt the Web was a bit overwhelmed with Steve Jobs stories, so I decided to wait. Between reading his newly published biography and working long hours, I've found some time to, here it is.

Back in 2005 I updated my iMac and installed some new programs as well, one of which was called Garage Band. I have been a self-taught guitar player since 1991 and the idea of plugging into my computer and recording music intrigued me to say the least. I knew computers were being used in the recording industry for years, but most of those programs were expensive, complicated to use, and required special hardware interfaces in order to get the sound from the instruments and/or voice into the application. I bought a special cable at the Apple Store so I could plug my Strat in and started playing around with the program.

I was like a kid in a candy store. With Garage Band I could create drum tracks, and then record as many different guitar tracks as I wanted. I could choose different guitar sounds, amplifier types, and pedal effects. I was so impressed with the program that I brought my brother-in-law, Mike, over to check it out. Mike is more of a lead guitar player where as I am a rhythm guitar player, we'd jammed together a handful of times over the years and had similar tastes in music. He was as amazed as I was at the power and simplicity of the Garage Band application. We would sit at the computer and take turns with my Strat laying down tracks and drinking large quantities of beer. We saved all the songs we worked on and burned a few to a disk. Mike took it with him and let our friend Tim, a self taught drummer, listen to our project. He was blown away, he couldn't believe that what was on that disk was just the two of us, one guitar, and a bunch of beer. A week later, Tim called us and announced he had bought a drum kit, that night the three of us got together and jammed for the first time.

A couple of weeks later I was at a party and ran into my friend Fern. I told him about Garage Band, our project, and how we had started jamming and, the part I was most excited about, how we had started writing our own songs. "You guys need a bass player?" was his response. I didn't know he was a musician, and later it would become evident that Fern was our secret weapon...a trained musician and awesome bass player.

Weeks of jamming, writing, and drinking ensued and at some point while drinking tequila with my friends the name King Karl was uttered, and the band was officially born. Over the next three years we would write nearly 20 original songs, get paid to play in Tucson bars, and at our peak in 2008 we would be selected as a top five finalist for a televised battle of the bands put on by our local Fox station and held at the historic Rialto Theater. I made our music video submission on my iMac using iMovie and iDVD software. To me, playing on the same stage where I saw many of my favorite bands, from 311, to Cake, to Disturbed, and even Megadeth, was literally a dream come true. I was, on a small scale and for a short amount of time, a rock star.

As so often happens in life, King Karl stopped playing music in 2008. Careers, family, and...well, life...ended our band. We were all friends before the band and remain friends after, and we love talking about the good old days.

I've told many people over the years how my Mac turned us into a rock stars. It wasn't until the passing of Steve Jobs that I actually thought about it, but if it weren't for Steve, it is highly likely that our band would never have been created, let alone be successful. If he hadn't help start Apple, re-create the company with the original iMac, and continue the evolution with OS X and iApps like Garage Band, then five 30-something guys from Tucson would never have the great memories of writing, playing, and performing original music together. I'm still reading Steve Job's biography, and I was tickled to find out that he was a music lover. I wonder what he would have thought about our music. He probably would have hated it, but would have been pleased that he had a hand in sparking our creativity.

Thank you, Steve Jobs, for making me a rock star and giving me my 15 minutes of fame.

Video for "T.V. Song" that got us into the Tucson Music Melee in 2008
Made on my iMac.

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