Monday, December 5, 2011

Nuclear Rabbit at Gilman St in Berkeley, CA

Nuclear Rabbit is one of my favorite bands for at least the past 15+ years. I originally found them searching for bands on the original "" website when it was still flooded with local bands giving away free music. They have been around since 1989! Since I discovered them I have introduced COUNTLESS open minded fans of music to their sound and the majority have LOVED it. Even my girlfriend and 13 year old step daughter sing along to their silly songs. I hear people compare them to everything from Mr. Bungle and Primus, to Death and Minute Men, they have a VERY unique sound with Greg Parrish's wide range of vocals, and Jean Baudin on the 11 string bass! 

After all these years and all the shows I have seen, I never had the opportunity to catch them playing live! I scoured the internet searching for live footage, and even after the invention and flooding of youtube and other video sharing sites, I could find nothing more than a couple short 30 second cell phone clips. Nothing worth hearing or watching. I could only imagine how they pulled off the songs live. About 5 years ago I moved to the bay area and hoped one new advantage would be that I have a better chance of one day catching them live along with many other amazing bands who play in SF bay area.  

Due to the fact these guys just appear and play a show or two, then disappear for YEARS... It was never in the cards for me to see them in person UNTIL recently! In October I had the rare opportunity to catch Nuclear Rabbit live in Berkeley, California!  Since I knew this was possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity, I grabbed my 3D camera and decided I would go right to the front and capture as much of the show as I could,  to share with the world of fans who are deprived of the rabbit.. and to preserve the night for myself to watch many times over. Which I have.

I had such high expectations after all these years, and let me tell you, each member of the band BLEW me away! This is quite possibly the most underrated band I have ever had the pleasure of discovering. The combination of all 4 members is perfection, some of the best drum and bass combinations possible, and the guitar riffs are as unique as they come. Greg is all over the place vocally telling stories, and switching seamlessly from clean heartfelt clean vocals to death metal screams and then on to some doo wop all sounding like it was inspired by too many cartoons and hallucinogens.

Below is the 2d and 3d versions of the first time I ever got to see Nuclear Rabbit this past October in Berkeley. The vocals were very low due to how close I was to the stage, and it may be a bit chaotic, but I think it is well worth the watch, rare footage indeed of NR, and a mighty fine performance!



Be sure to add Nuclear Rabbit on Facebook!

You can also hear their music on myspace!

  • Greg Parrish – vocals
  • Jean Baudin – Extended-range bass (11-String), backing vocals 
  • Timothy Bailey – drums
  • Jason Branyan – guitar

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Brainphreak Tapping Guitar Improvisation

It's been a while since I posted something since I have been busy with life in general, so I thought I would post this short improvised tapping song, nice and mellow stuff inspired by Jean Baudin , Jon Gomm, Andy McKee and other percussion guitarists. This is my first ever recording of this style of playing, I just recently tried it out and am working on a composition based on this improvisation. I set up the iphone for recording video with the 8mm app (looks old school) , and here it is! Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Video: We Are Your Government (Occupy Oakland)

Brainphreak - We Are Your Government

This video was made using footage from the recent attack on the people of Oakland at the "Occupy Oakland" protest. The music I wrote and recorded a few years ago but thought it was a good time to make a video due to the recent events.
Being involved in the "occupy" protests in San Francisco and keeping in close contact with other locations in California, it was especially disturbing to witness the attacks carried out on the people in Oakland. It was a very clear abuse of power and bad decision making. It was broadcast live and I was following along as the attacks were carried out. Video from before, during and after the attacks are fully available from all angles on youtube.  In the end there was over 16 police departments involved to evict all 175 'occupy' protestors who should have been protected by the US constitution. When some of the protestors decided not to budge and participate in a common 'sit in' protest, the police opened fire on the entire group, utilizing everything from sound weapons and percussion flash grenades to 'less-than-lethal' rounds and an obscene amount of tear gas. In the end many people were injured and one Iraq War veteran was sent to the hospital in critical condition after being shot in the head with a canister by police.

This is all in the name of 'safety'? how is it this protecting the public when it has turned a simple protest which may have at worst contained possible crimes of 'vandalism' or even 'health code violations' by one or two individuals, into a complete war zone with 175 people running through the streets literally dodging bullets running possibly for their lives. This is completely un-american and police activities that should never be seen in a free society. Please share with others to raise awareness of the crimes that took place by the state.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Drive Through Los Gatos - Occupy Wallstreet Protests

I was driving through Los Gatos seeing all the amazing rich houses and properties on my way to pick up my guitar amp. I pulled out my iphone to capture some footage and was thinking about the Wallstreet protests and how most will never live in one of those mansions even though they work as hard or harder than most every person who does. The current system is definitely not a fair one, and one that is so full of waste its amazing our race has survived. I was listening to one of my favorite bands Menomena playing the song "5 little rooms" during this drive so when I got home I put all the footage together, Los Gatos rich homes, footage of the wall street protests, and Menomena. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Brainphreak Gig: Strangling Marilyn is Back!

After a long hiatus due to my back injury, 'Strangling Marilyn' have been practicing hard, added a new guitarist, and have a brand new setlist filled with almost all new songs! Since the last show I also received the amazing brainphreak v1.0 custom 8-string guitar which will make its official debut that night. Come out to the Bistro in Hayward and wear your costume for the chance to win prizes! Free band merchandise etc.  Read the flier above for more details. Hope to see you there if you are in the bay area on the 29th of October!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

New Brainphreak Art For Sale!

Its been a couple months since I had one on sale, and usually I don't let them go in only colored pencil, but recently I am getting a lot of requests for "brainphreak" posters. So here is the best of both worlds, on Ebay shipped for only 75$ in the frame, 65$ without. No I am afraid Melina does not come with the drawing :)

Auction ends on the May 29th at 6PM

<3 to my wife for posing with my pic

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tosin Abasi and Animals as Leaders

Brainphreak and Tosin Abasi at "the Metro" in Oakland, CA

I had the great honor and pleasure of meeting and getting a guitar lesson from Tosin Abasi this week! His amazing band Animals as Leaders was in Oakland so I ventured on over to the "Metro" before the show to meet him with my new custom Halo for an hour lesson. Tosin is not only an amazing player, but an amazing guy who is well educated and easy going. He proceeded to teach a few different techniques he has used in his writing, the most unique was his use of major and minor arpeggios mixed (top and bottom halves) and then moving them up the neck tonally so that you get a giant pattern that covers the neck and not only outlines the chords but has both major and minor sound and wide intervals making the riffs seem extra speedy. Tosin talked about a few influences and gave recommendations of various guitar instruction videos, most I was already familiar with (Steve Morse Power Lines, Guthrie Govan etc.).

Overall this was an amazing experience to not only meet Tosin, but to get a personal guitar lesson and then shortly after the entire band took the stage and tore it up! I have some video down below which I took from the very front. I also have a link and you can download the entire show if you wish! I highly recommend it! Its heavy, its mellow, and there are no vocals to mess things up!

For those not familiar: Animals as Leaders is an American, Washington, D.C.–based instrumental progressive metal band, formed by guitarist Tosin Abasi in 2007 which now includes guitarist Javier Reyes and drummer Navene Koperweis. The self-titled debut album was released in April 2009 by Prosthetic Records. Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes are also members of the supergroup T.R.A.M alongside former The Mars Volta wind instrumentalist Adrian Terrazas and Suicidal Tendencies drummer Eric Moore.

Animals as Leaders "CAFO" Official Music Video

Live footage I took from right up front! (Also in 3D!)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Steampunk Gadget: How To Make a Diatonic Deductor

This Diatonic Deductor gives the possessor the ability to listen to even the most complex sound or music and understand its composition. This can be used to decode complex messages, be used to determine the cause of a sound or noise, or can be used to understand and recreate complex musical passages without effort or the need for previously acquired skills. Those wearing a Diatonic Deductor have been known to gain the ability to instantly play musical instruments with the most complex and modern techniques through tube and clockwork mechanisms. Igor Stravinsky was a loyal supporter of the Diatonic Deductor and has owned one of what is said to be only 11 ever made before the design was destroyed in 1894 in a tragic fire.


I made this device up as I went along and glued things together as I saw fit. Its really easy to make your own steampunk device for costumes or just art if you take the time. I took photos as I built this one so that I can share with others and maybe inspire a few ideas. Hope you enjoy the photos as much as I did making it!

When I started I wanted to make something I can wear on my wrist for the steampunk costume I was designing. I needed something pretty lightweight but strong enough it wouldn't break so it could be worn on my wrist without falling apart or weighing my arm down too much.

I found the perfect thing, a bicycle drink holder which had an adjustable rubber grip and was made of mostly light weight aluminum.

As you can see I was able to bend the metal frame slightly and it could be worn on my wrist making a perfect frame for the new device!

Unfortunately I wasn't originally going to take pictures and post them for this project so I am missing a few steps below. I will attempt to explain. I created a large steampunk gadget which will be glued to the frame using various gears, watch parts, jewelry parts, some nuts, a keychain and a piece of chain. Most everything was purchased from Michaels, I wasn't sure what I was going to create so I used a pocket watch casing which was also for sale at Michaels as a platform and glued all the parts to it as you see below. 

 I then glued this chunk of steampunk onto the base drink holder and let it set overnight.

I went on ebay and won an auction for some old broken tubes which no longer worked or were untested. I thought these would add a nice flavor to the device so I glued a few onto the base.

Still looking for metal chunks of things I can add to the steampunk design, I was at a thrift store and found a box of napkin rings which were nice lightweight metal. I decided this would look good on the front of the device and can serve as barrel or nozzle.

In case anyone is interested I took a picture of the glue I used. I tried super glue as well, but would not recommend it as it will leave a white color on the metal as it dries and also does not do well on most metals so ends up taking a long time to dry anyways. The liquid fusion glue is nice because it dries clear like glass. You can see below how a couple of the gears I covered completely in glue so it looks like there is a glass gear or a lense.

I found some cool looking wings in the jewelry section of Michaels and glued them on both sides to add the "airship" feel and make it genuine steampunk!

Here is an old bottlecap from one of my favorite root beers, Thomas Kemper. They are very victorian looking :) Also you will notice I added a giant spring, this was taken from some kitchen utensil I got at the goodwill store for change.

Added a spring to both sides and added some more gear. You can never have enough! I tried to make them connect so they look like they are working.

A couple more tubes on the front next to the barrel.

This is the opposite side, a couple 'charms' are glued on. A wooden "G" and a rivet.

Finally I added some paint so the napkin ring looks more aged. I painted with metal paints, bronze and copper I think. Then I roughed it up a bit so both colors shined through. I also decided to add some light so its more 'functional' by placing some LED lights under the tubs and powering them with a nine volt battery which sticks out the barrel. I also painted the black rubber wristband/strap so that it looked a metal color rather than rubber.

Here are some pictures with the complete costume from our Halloween.

The whole family crew. Join us on our airship one day wont you?

Airship Pirate - By Abney Park

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Song and Video: Nerve

Was playing around on the new 8-string and liked the riff. Programmed a beat, quickly wrote some lyrics, and the song was born.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New "Brainphreak" Custom 8-String from Halo Guitars!

Brainphreak v1.0 by **brainphreak** and Halo Guitars

Finally after about 6 months of waiting and working with the guys over at Halo Guitars the beast is born. On my birthday of all days (June 13th) I took this monster home perfectly setup and ready to jam just in time for a nice 10 day vacation from work. I highly recommend the work of Halo as they pay attention to detail and keep you in the loop during the entire process. If you are thinking of purchasing a monster of your own, head on over to Halo Guitars and let them know Don White aka Brainphreak sent you for an extra 10% off! If you happen to live in the bay area of California, head on over to their shop in San Jose to see their work in person and talk about the birth of these creatures.

Interesting Origins of the Brainphreak concept
When I was about 17 I worked at a used music store repairing amps for 'experience' in my field of study. I was a beginner in guitar just learning through tutorials on the internet and by playing Black Sabbath cover songs with a crappy Ibanez that I bought used for 99$. At "Muzik Musik" I was just a kid making only about 20-40$ a day and working only about 2 days a month while in college...  I finally saved up and was able to get a second guitar as my paycheck from the owner, this was a Gibson Epiphone. I was excited this guitar had been modified with a steinberger bridge and was actually played by a professional musician so it was properly setup (for the most part). I think I probably saved about 150$ and he gave me this guitar worth about 2-250$. He was a very nice guy to get me started.

After getting attached to this new axe and me being passionate about art and painting for many years prior. I decided to paint a face on the new guitar with acrylic paints my mother gave me. I knew it may take some time to dry, but now I had two guitars so this was acceptable.  After I finished the painting it was easily damaged and only water based paint (ceramcoat), so I needed a lacquer to protect it and shine like you expect on any guitar. I was pretty poor at the time so I asked around for a few days until a friend of mine who's father was a painter was able to get me some clear lacquer that was out in his garage for years. I finally was able to seal the guitar in clear coat!

Below is a picture of that original guitar I have had since 17.

Strange occurrence... After painting this guitar the lacquer would NOT DRY! Later it was explained to me that the hardening agent probably had evaporated over the years leaving me with a clear tacky gelatinous covered guitar... I waited for days... weeks... months... Finally after about 2-3 months I gave up and started just playing it. It was dry enough that it would not leave fingerprints, but if you pushed your nail into it, you would leave a nice dent in the finish... The coat was also not very shiny as it had collected dust particles etc. over the weeks as it was drying. One very strange thing about the guitar while in this state... When I dug into the finish, bumped the guitar against something hard etc. and it left damage... Over the next few days the damage would 'heal itself' since it was a slow moving liquid and would flatten out the dents... Very odd, but pretty cool. ITS ALIVE!

Ever since that experience with this guitar, I always wanted to do it again to a guitar the RIGHT way, now that I am not poor and a teenager... However I have not tried it again since.  I buy guitars only with finishes I love and have not been brave enough to mess it up, maybe someday I will buy some cheap crappy guitar and paint it up again for fun.
 Still has its paintjob!

The Birth of the Halo Brainphreak v1.0

In 2010 I met Jeff at Halo Guitars when I stopped by to take a look at their custom 10 string guitar. Halo is one of the only companies out there who has a 10 string for sale and I found they were local here in San Jose! What luck! I went down there to see if it was something I wanted to purchase since they had a working model in their show room. After talking to Jeff I realized that they could potentially work with me to build the ultimate Brainphreak guitar instead!

After the initial talks I went home and sketched up a quick design to see if this was even possible...

Original Concept Sketch

Amazingly enough the guys over at Halo would have no problem turning this into a reality. After further talk about the carving of the body, a custom paint job, making the guitar 8 strings, adding a kill switch, custom inlay etc. I found that this was all possible at Halo! I immediately went to work on creating the sketches for the carving, the colors, and the inlay. I was going to make the headstock custom as well, but the stock Halo headstock was hard for me to top, so I kept it.

Original Concept Art/Blueprints

Next the guys over at Halo went to work making sure the design was logical/playable etc. After some work back and forth finalizing the ideas and dimensions of the body, the template was created and sent for my approval before cutting into the real body.

Body Template

The template looked great so I gave Halo the go ahead to start carving the actual body.

Initial Body After Carving

The body was looking great so I began to work with Halo on the custom inlay. I decided this inlay would be a spine in tribute to my back injury I have been dealing with for about a year now.

Herniated Discs in my Back

The final result of the neck with the Mother of Pearl inlay

Finally with the guitar mostly built and carved with inlay etc. it was time for the painting. We worked a little on the coloring over the phone and with that it was sent to an airbrush artist here in San Jose. The final result of the paint job was pretty amazing, the pictures do NOT do it justice!

Fully painted guitar without the hardware installed.

The wait was nerve wracking after seeing this beast was almost done, the final process was to install all the hardware including EMG 808 Pickups, Kahler X-Trem bridge, killswitch, volume/tone knobs, frets, nut etc. and then do the final setup so it plays smooth.

The time waiting was well worth it, the final product is a dream come true and it even sounds better than my existing Schecter and LTD 8-string guitars! Ill be sure to post some video of it in action soon...
 Final Brainphreak v1.0 Guitar
by **brainphreak** and Halo Guitars

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Song and Video: The Fever

A new song inspired by watching Twilight Zone at 3am on a work night...
Have you ever had "the Fever"?

Synopsis: Franklin detests gambling... Suddenly Franklin is given a coin by a drunk man at the casino, who makes him use it in a slot machine. Franklin wins! Telling his wife that they should keep the money and not lose it back like the other idiotic people. 

As they depart, Franklin believes he hears the slot machine calling his name... He continues to hear this as he tries to sleep... As Franklin imagines his winnings piling up, he decides to try his luck, telling his wife he cannot keep "tainted" money, and that he is going to get rid of it by putting it back in the machine.

Later, Flora goes to the casino and finds him playing the machine obsessively. Addicted, Franklin has lost a great deal of their money. When Flora tries to coax him to stop, Franklin declares that he has lost so much, that he has to try to win some of it back. Franklin becomes enraged when she presses for him to leave, declaring that the machine is "inhuman", that it "teases you, sucks you in." Others observe that he has been playing the machine for hours. Eventually, the slot machine takes his final dollar and breaks down. Franklin begins yelling and attacking the machine to give him back his "last dollar." He is taken out of the casino screaming...

Later in bed, Franklin tells Flora that the machine was about to pay off, but deliberately broke down so that it wouldn't have to. He then hears the machine again calling his name...  Franklin sees it coming down the hallway to their room, "chasing" him, but Flora cannot see it and believes that he is going crazy. When the machine continues to follow him, repeating his name over and over, "Franklin, Franklin, Franklin!", he backs up towards the window, his hands over his ears, finally crashing through the glass and falling to his death.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New Brainphreak Cards: Recognize The Patterns?

This is an easy one for all the guitarists out there...

Ran out of the old brainphreak cards and smartlevels is having a great deal, so I made up 2 new designs.

New Cover Art: Slow Kill - Radiation From Japan

Check out the new book "Slow Kill" by Greg Fernandez Jr. 
cover art by **brainphreak**

I was contacted by Greg two days before the deadline to get his book printed for an upcoming event. I quickly went to work and threw together the front and back designs which were used for the final prints. You can see the artwork and credits in the 'preview' of the book here.

The threat of nuclear radiation reaching the United States is real. The Fukushima disaster is what certain officials tried to cover up. A Slow Kill happens when people are not given truthful information, such as in the Chernobyl situation. When people in the United States should have been staying indoors after the 3/11/11 tsunami in Japan, the United States citizens were oblivious to the looming threat across the Pacific Ocean. We will examine what happened during these first days of a possible nuclear meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, where plutonium, radioactive Iodine (I-131), Cesium, Xenon, and other harmful chemicals are exposed into the atmosphere, threatening the entire northern hemisphere with a "Slow Kill."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Support the Kids! Bister Mungle at Eureka High School Talent Show

Mr. Bungle continue to be one of my biggest influences and favorite bands to watch and listen to. I never had the opportunity to catch them live while they were still together, but have caught each of the members in their various projects which formed after the demise of Bungle. Each member of this band is uniquely talented and together form one of the greatest live acts to exist since Frank Zappa. In this rare opportunity we get to see genius musicians doing what they do while still in High School.

Mike Patton and the rest of Mr. Bungle, back when they were kids playing at the high school talent show.

1985 - Bister Mungle

You can see that Mike was well on his way to becoming a wild front man even covering songs in his own silly way. The band you can see already enjoyed mixing various genres and were beginning to have a stage presence. This was apparently before the band played out live under the name Mr. Bungle which as we know added a much darker edge as they wrote original tracks and became very skilled musicians.

I recently watched an old pro shot recording of the band from 2000 taken at bizarre festival in my collection and felt I must share the concert as a whole for the world to see. You will never see anything quite like this again unless we are lucky enough to live to see a reunion of the band.

2000 - Mr Bungle

It just goes to show, you should support the kids and their music. Even if they run around acting like jackasses on stage pissing off parents, teachers, and small dogs.

About Mr Bungle:
Mr. Bungle was known for its distinctive musical traits, often cycling through several musical genres within the course of a single song. Many of its songs had an unconventional structure and utilized a wide array of instruments and samples. Live shows often featured members dressing up and an array of cover songs.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mike Patton and PIVIXKI Premier Performance in San Francisco

Mike Patton and PIVIXKI

This past Wednesday I had the pleasure of watching one of my favorite musicians Mike Patton play a shredding set of noise with drum and bass duo PIVIXKI who came all the way from Australia for this one show. This was the very first live show, and quite possibly the only show knowing Mike's history. I do hope that Mike Patton and PIVIXKI decide to release an album, the music was a great experience bringing the heavyness of metal, chaos of noise and experimental, and the odd timing of classical jazz and progressive. Murderous piano, thundering drums, and Mike Patton screaming his head off like he can only do created an overall atmosphere that was very eerie and felt as if you were sucked into a scary movie like "the shining".  I highly recommend you see Mike Patton in any of his various experimental projects regardless of the lineup, you will always experience something unforgettable even if you do not connect with the music.

Here is a description of this new act from the venue promo:

"Australian piano/drums duo PIVIXKI is a classic example of something that
works when it shouldn't: a versatile composer hammering hyper-fast piano
riffs referencing, Cecil Taylor, Slayer, Xenakis, and Ethiopiques grooves
over immaculate blast beats by one the hardest-working drummers in
international grind, who also produces hip-hop and electro tracks in

Throw musical polymath Mike Patton into this territory and you have a
genuinely dangerous proposition: music with the borders completely invisible
and the possibilities immense. An early supporter of the band, and one of
the world's most versatile and creative composer/vocalists EVER, the
resulting trio promises an uncompromising night of delirious sonic reality. "

I was able to capture some footage of the show for all you web-sters. I had too many heads in the way so couldn't get anything up close but later I went to the back and upstairs, zoomed in and got this little bit of footage from up above. The camera was only 4x zoom and without image stabilization so I added some trippy effects and things to make the video more enjoyable.