#081: Roundtable – Bolton Gets a Theme Song

superman_main_logo-bIn this exciting episode of the DIY Musician Podcast, Bolton gets his very own theme song.  That’s right, the world premiere of Mr. Billy’s “The Bolt.” In music related news: More speculations about Apple intentions with the newly acquired Lala and Rockband opens itself up to the indie music community.  The Podcasters recap of last weeks episode with Howard Massey and share stories from their own musical projects. Plus your calls and emails!



  • Awesome! I’m glad to know the nickname I christened has become a musical icon! Great job Mr. Billy!

  • Okay.

    Although Chris might be flattered and in some way feel like a rock star now. Mr. Billy’s “song” SUCKS! I would not have played that for my worst enemies, let alone friends and fans. Sorry Mr. Billy, but it does!

    As for the rest of this episode? ha ha.. You guys are idiots! And I will not appologize for that.

    In all humility, I’ve forgotten more than you and I trust most of this podcast’s listeners will ever know. Producers, have led us to where we are today.

    Producers are want-to-be arists who haven’t the ability nor talent to come up with what the artists they rangle, create.

    Engineers, on the other hand, are key to making a half azzed recording sound great!

    A great example: George Martin
    He for his part, largely destroyed the Beatles. His concept of what
    the Beatles were versus what they really were is startling. I saw the Beatles live at Madison Square Gardens. The recordings were a severe injustice to the band. Live, they were exciting, fun, intriguing and a bit of mystery. On record.. Sorry, they were nowhere near the same band.

    Yes, I’m older than many of you but then again, I remember and have experienced music before it became the shit it is today.

  • Had to add this. Chris, I’m guessing you never liked the Beatles, Led Zepellin, Aerosmith, Foghat, Nazerth, Motley Crue, James Taylor, Bob Dylan and so on. All multi-track and multi-take recordings.

  • WHOA! I haven’t even heard this episode yet, I was on the site to get links for my blog about mastering (www.askmrbilly.com), I guess I better download it quick! I’ll post a quick little tale of how it came about later…thanks SiouxDude and the CDBDIYMPC crew, you rock!

  • Robert Lee King – Come on man! Can’t music be fun? I don’t think Mr. Billy wrote the theme song for us to make an artistic statement. It’s fun! We laughed and had a good time. Also, we aways enjoy your unique take on music, but don’t fall out of favor by calling us idiots. All view points are welcome, but when it results in name calling, that’s when the conversation will end.

  • Kevin,

    Fair enough, though I didn’t mean it as it clearly reads, more tongue in cheek actually. I appologise for saying it all the same.

    Music in and of itself, is fun. Even so, I know of no artist who can honestly say the act of creating music is fun. It’s work, hard work and should be taken at least equally as serious as the work performed by one’s mechanic, plumber, electrician, physician, etc.

  • Blimey! Is this episode going to forever have the alternative title of RLK-Gate?

    As far as I’m concerned a producer can be very valuable to the recording process. Some can ruin a good song but the best ones can take a good song and help make it a classic. Someone like George Martin was clever enough to spot that The Beatles were eager to learn and grow as a band, so he let them do that. To say he destroyed The Beatles is a bizarre thing to say, to be honest. A little bitterness methinks?

    I would welcome working with a producer on my solo work as it can often be difficult to make decisions about where to take the songs; having a collaborator would be great. In the band it’s not too bad as there are six of us to bounce ideas off but being on your own can be tough sometimes. Our latest EP (soon on CD Baby!) was such fun to record as the arrangements were worked out as a band rather than me telling them what to do, and as a result the songs are much richer.

    Try it Robert, go find someone to work with; you just might enjoy it!

  • I like the Listening Party idea. I’ve been doing that about once a month with a few musician friends. Usually, we’ll choose a theme, such as a particular composer (Messiaen, Frank Zappa…), a style (Baroque, Psychedelic Rock…), or we’ll share different mixes and arrangements of our own music to get feedback from each other. Instead of sitting alone interacting with screens, we eat, drink, laugh, listen, and share… it’s truly social and relieves the pervasive isolation of our digital-D.I.Y. world.

  • I could be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure The Beatles never performed at Madison Square Garden.

  • Bolton

    Ok Robert, now YOU have to write me a theme song!



  • Darren,

    You give producers far more credit than they deserve. Without the songs to start from, the producer can do virtually nothing. The Beatles for their part, wrote memorable catchy songs and yes, I do feel George Martin influenced them negatively. Just listen to the rereleased versions which have had the Martin treatment removed. They are much stronger works.

    As for the band dynamic, yes, that bit is fun but once you get down to actually hashing out the final arrangements the fun evaporates pretty quickly. At least it does when you’re serious about the material. I’m not saying you aren’t serious but I will remind you, the recording process has killed more bands than anything else in the history of music.


    You’re right, the show I’m thinking about was actually at Carnegie Hall, though all of the Beatles at one time or another played Madison Square many times.


    I would but, I don’t know you well enough to do it justice. As I see it, a theme song is to introduce and built up the subject of the song and that requires insights into the subject I simply do not posses.

    I mean no offense to Mr. Billy, his song is well performed. Just not a good theme song, more a private dig or joke if you will. Rather like Madonna’s sad attempt at creating the theme for Die Anoher Day. An okay pop tune but not a theme song by any measure.


    Please forgive my harsh comments, I often forget how easily text can be taken to mean something much darker than intended. At the same time, I do take music very seriously, perhaps too seriously. But to me, music is life and without music, life itself is rather pointless.
    After all, even the deaf, are effected by music. Diferently than those of us who can actually hear it but effected just the same.

  • Um, gee Robert Lee King…thanks? I’ve been flamed by RLK, I can die a happy man now.

    You know RLK, I had no idea who you are or what you do (except for your CD Baby Podcast “fame”), so I visited you site and all I can say is maybe you should give the producer, engineer, “working with other musicians” stuff a try, I think it would help.

    For those of you who didn’t think the song sucked (yes Mr. Bolt, I would love to hear RLK’s version mixed in surround or maybe live at Madison Square Garden), here is how it came about…

    I was visiting family in Vegas, couldn’t sleep. I got the basic idea in my head and wanted to save it, but didn’t want to wake up the family, so I wrote all the lyrics on my Blackberry Storm and later snag into it.

    When I get back home I recorded it using an old track I had not used for another project. Spiced it up a bit, added guitars. etc.

    Recording FYI-I use Windows XP, Sonar Producer 8.5, Samson mics (love ’em), Line 6 guitars/FX and interface…thats about it…took an afternoon.

    OH BTW, I do have FUN writing and recording (working on CD #9 right now). Hard work, yes, but TONS of fun (I think it shows in my recordings).

    OK, while I’m on a roll, I must confess…I’m an old fart too (I just don’t act like one) I saw the Beatles on ED Sullivan and the very first episode of Star Trek when it was aired…

    Live Long and Prosper CD Baby Podcast and “The Bolt”

  • Can’t work be fun? I find every aspect of making music fun; honestly. From coming up with the idea, to working on said idea, recording it, mixing it – I love it all.

    I’m just as happy editing my badly played tambourine shaking as I am performing in front of a pub full of Fanditos. It’s all hard work but it’s fun work too.

    (By the way, Kevin – I want a little picture by my name like you do. How do I do it?)

  • Producers… gosh I don’t know where to start. Daniel Lanois? Brian Eno? Larry Klein? John Leventhal? Jon Brion? Arif Mardin? From focusing the music to co-writing/arranging/tracking, to just being a dude/sounding board (Rick Rubin, who nevertheless helps artists produce some of their best work), Producers have been invaluable parts of the recording process. Self-producing can be great too (Prince, Dylan, etc) but it is hard to really be objective about every aspect of one’s own tunes/performances. We don’t often hear our own time, pitch problems… we think we’re totally bewitching in a certain performance and to a more objective ear we sound asleep…
    And the George Martin comment is just ludicrous.

  • To all,

    Theme song? FYI: The Podcast guys called it that, I never did.

    Actually, “The Bolt” was never intended to a a theme song…I just wanted to make commentary… parody if you will of everything from the name thing, bad tweets, Office Space comments heard occasionally on the program, marketing, etc. I am a huge Weird Al fan…maybe someday if I give up or move on from the kid music thing (hard to say I make a very good living as a full time original artist, 200-300 shows a year for almost a decade) I suspect I would become a parody artists that kicks butt on guitar LOL.

    Bolton-working on the surround mix…what the hell kind of file would I save that as anyway???

    RLK, I do enjoy your views and opinions, you are an entertaining guy too.

    In peace and slightly out of tune harmony,

    Mr. Billy

    PS- If your work isn’t fun it’s time to find a new job 🙂

  • Wow! Good work on the theme song. Sometimes the business in music business can get overwhelming. Thanks for lightening things up a bit. Keep up the great podcasts. Rock on!

  • As always, great podcast! And nice work Mr. Billy, I got a chuckle out of it:)

    RLK, I just wanted to play devil’s advocate to your take on producers: As much as you can blame the producer for not creating the song, you can also blame the artist for being unable to arrange it. Could Paul McCartney (at least the Paul McCartney of 1968) have written the string parts for ‘She’s Leaving Home’? You say producers are ‘wannabe musicians’, but there are plenty of examples of great musicians/songwriters that have worked as producers (e.g., T-Bone Burnett, David Bowie, Brain Eno…).

    Anyway, I think music takes a lot of skill sets beyond basic songwriting or technical playing ability, and it’s only natural to ‘outsource’ talents that you don’t have (or don’t want to develop), whether it’s engineering, arrangement, or even simply keeping everyone in a studio session happy, inspired, & productive. If you don’t like the production on an album, that’s a matter of taste, but I for one am happy that “A Day in the Life” wasn’t just another generic 4-piece band track;)

  • Nice theme song. I’d like to hear more from Mr. Billy. He writes fun songs, sparks good discussions & has creative ideas on the biz.

  • @Mr. Billy – I didn’t take your song as a full-forced attempt to show super artistry 🙂 I just saw it as a good-natured, fun tune supporting something you heard on the podcast. It’s well done and I like it. Also, I’m a fellow Sonar user so I appreciate seeing it being used in constructive ways 😉

    @RLK – I’m all about producers. I self-produce my stuff and even though I know my stuff is good (at least to me) and well-performed(at least to my dog), I think having an outside ear helping guide the music to even better potential can be warranted. It’s a thing where you’ve got to be able to let go of your project a little bit and allow them to push you and your music beyond what you could do for yourself.

    I also come from a Chicago theatre background and I akin a producer to a director for a theatre company. The worst shows ever are most of the time self-directed debacles. Not to say you can’t get a bad outside director who totally jacks up your show (I’ve had that happen a couple of times) but generally when they are not a part of the show, that independent eye can point out things that can be tweaked and worked with objectivity. A musical producer for me would do the same thing. Perhaps I thought a vocal take was awesome but it really could’ve been a little bit better if someone had just sat there and told me to do it again. Or perhaps a simple suggestion of a change of key would totally lift a song to a new place. Not all producers are bad musicians/wanna-be’s. I’ve produced a few things here and there that I’m really proud of (of course!). I don’t think those bands/artists would’ve had the caliber of material they got if they had done it on their own.

    Respectfully yours,
    Nelson V

  • Producers are like directors. It comes down to that. I spent 6 years as a a semipro playwright and each time I was produced the director helped focus and shine the final product.

    I’m a singer/songwriter and I love performing solo but every time I have collaborated -in the studio or in bands- my ideas were focused and refined.

    A producer that you trust will make you a better writer and performer. A bad producer is like a bad director, everyone gets mad and the final product suffers. Anyone who tells you different is an amateur, regardless of age.

  • Neil,

    She’s Leaving Home (The End) was created by the Beatles when they decided that they wanted to create music they could never possibly play live. A Day In the Life is actually two songs, one by John and the other by Paul. As was their custom, the two were in competition for a track on the album. As it turned out Geoff Emerick made both John and Pauls songs work together as a single piece. Varispeed was used to synch the two tracks up and blend them together into the whole that everyone knows. George Martin had zip to do with that. In fact, outside of pushing them into specific arangements the Beatles themselves said they hated in many interviews, George Henry Martin contributed very little to the overall sound of the Beatles.

    Put another way, the engineer, made it work, not the producer.

  • I agree with the notion of trying to get as much of what you want to record live. Chris’s recording experience sounds like a wonderful thing to be a part of. I’ve done something similar with a group of musicians on a singer/songwriter’s album. We got together after he (Tim Cannon) had recorded some demos of this songs, just acoustic guitar and vocals, and we arranged them as a band. If you’re interested in reading more about what we did, I’ve written a couple of blog posts on my own blog (www.andrewrostas.blogspot.com).
    As for the argument that indie DIY artists are killing the recording studios by recording most of their music at home, I don’t buy that. There will ALWAYS be a need for great sounding studios with great/expensive outboard gear/mics/instruments etc. Any idiot, given the chance to A/B the end result will be able to tell the difference in quality. I think the main problem is that the way we (as a broad sweeping statement) consume music, doesn’t give anyone the opportunity to appreciate the difference in quality. Like you guys said on the podcast, who has a good stereo at home anymore? Most people listen to music on their MP3 player with crappy earbuds while they are walking around the city with the ambient noise creeping into their ears. Weather this is why the turn them up so loud as to drown it out, I don’t know.
    The notion of appreciating music with no other distraction is something that almost doesn’t exist anymore. I think that THAT is a much bigger reason why the big studios aren’t getting as much work. Not because artists don’t want to spend the money, but because the music that most people listen to, and the WAY that they listen to it has changed. It’s the difference between deciding to sit down to read a really well written novel for a few hours, compared to picking up a trashy magazine/paper to pass the time while you travel to work.