meanwhile at the skull base

Thunder Grunt Podcast Network is a Thing That Exists

site header Several of my friends and I have bandied together to create Thunder Grunt.  We felt that creating our own network would be the best way not only to reach each other's audiences, but build the momentum and raise the stakes on what we're doing.

We started with five shows:

AILBSlogoitunes An Innocent Looking Book Store, winner of Baltimore City Paper's "Best Offensive Podcast" 2013.

 

skullbaselogoitunes

 

Meanwhile, at the Skull Base, featuring local comedians Tommy Sinbazo, Bryan Preston, Jim Meyer and Josh Kuderna, with frequent special guests like Mickey Cuchiella and Matt Davis.

 

magcastitunes MAGCast, the official podcast of MAGFest!

 

 

digression session itunes

 

The Digression Sessions, a comedy talk show with comedians Josh Kuderna and Mike Moran.

 

 

expert of nothingAnd expert of Nothing, a Baltimore improv game show that utilize Baltimore's excessive amount of talent as its contestants.

 

 

 

I'm really, really proud of this network. I can't imagine how different my life would have been had I stayed in Denver and not moved back to Baltimore when I had. Please check out our site and our shows a listen. If there's anything you'd like to see added, please drop me a line.

Rex

The Power of a Great Partner

My wife just finished the last class of her Master's degree in Marriage and Family therapy. She's been on a long road to her career, and now she's finally found her true calling and is giving it her all. I'm very proud of her and thrilled and she's discovered what she wants to do with her abundant talents and innate gifts. This milestone left me reflecting on how different our lives had become, not only since meeting each other, but year by year. I can't express how much it's meant to me to have a partner who always my back, no matter what. When we moved back to Baltimore from Denver and had no jobs lined up, she let me build a studio in our basement, on credit, despite that being an outwardly terrible idea. But, it allowed me to finish Random Battles' full length, and when I finally developed the courage, to start putting myself out there as a voice actor. It was a bit a long game, and an uncertain one at that, but I never got any flack for it.

It also helps that we have so many common interests. We both play in bands around town, including the fun one-off groups we assemble for Windup nights. She also acts on Meanwhile, at the Skull Base as XSV-15, among others, and knocks it out of the park every time (I daresay she might be a better voice actor than I am, but don't tell her I said that). Hell, our activities dovetail so much, that even though she's the one with the degree in operatic vocals, I'm the one who most recently performed an opera (as a narrator, but I digress).

It's invaluable to have someone in my life that not only understands what I do, but encourages and nourishes it. I don't think I could have come this far without the love, support, and understanding of my partner. As cliche as it sounds, where there's love, anything is possible.

 

Every Job Feeds Into the Next

I was recently interviewed for a college survey project about my career as a voice actor. This is the first time I've given an interview for something not involving music (I write for and play in Random Battles and Uatu) and I was immensely flattered to be asked. Throughout the interview, I noticed most of my answers had a bent of marketing and advertising. I hope I didn't bore my interviewer too much, but I had made the magical world of VO sound like a business 101 lecture. But there was one point I happened to make to that I wanted to explore.

Every job feeds into the next.

I haven't been a voice actor for very long (I went "full-time" back in October). Aside from this, I've been a wedding DJ (still am, in fact), a maintenance man, audio engineer, server, bartender, HUD appraisal manager, IT tech, and graphic artist. As you may imagine, none of these industries have a ton of crossover. But, I've taken the skills and tricks I've learned from each of these jobs and applied them to my current endeavors.

This is what constructs my unique business approach: You may have sat down to a Pro Tools session in a studio, but have you ever replaced the carpet and tiles in that room? Have you been the delivery guy who brought you lunch? You've been a guest at a wedding, but have you been the valet, server, maitre'd, bartender, or DJ before (being only an attendee at a wedding is a very rare and strange thing for me)? While this may not seem relevant to voiceover, these experiences have shaped my outlook on my new business and informed how I approach its various challenges. I've sold myself as a DJ to brides for years, which taught me first hand how to adapt my skills and shape my words in order to present the best possible product for my client. Improv skills help in that realm just as much as behind the mic, by the way.

I wouldn't have had the confidence to build my own home studio without having been a gopher at my dad's construction sites growing up or been a maintenance man at Meadow Mills, incidentally now about two blocks away from my house and home to theater troupes in my social circle. I certainly wouldn't have appreciated the relative freedom and empowerment running my own business is without having sat in many,  many offices on many, many unbearably boring days. Those memories provide extra catalyst for building a successful business, and let me tell you, it's a hell of a good one.

As I progress in my business, now every job feeds into the next by way of word of mouth or repeat business. As I grow as into voiceover more and more, the type of work is aligning more and more: instead of serving, DJ'ing and interning at a recording studio, I'm performing a school assembly, acting in a short film, producing an awesome podcast, and, well, DJ'ing. In five years, who knows, maybe I'll be discerning between audiobook work and IVR. A guy can dream.

 

-Rex

 

 

 

New Meanwhile, at the Skull Base! Episode Four Launches Today

Holy cats! This one almost killed me. Through sheer willpower I managed to squeak this one out on time(ish..). Enjoy episode four: Big Trouble in Actual China! Meanwhile, at the Skull Base! Episode 4: Big Trouble in Actual China

From the Office to Behind the Mic: 2013 In Review

Well, this was a hell of a year. What started out as a desperate struggle by my wife and me to re-establish our lives in Maryland and find work has ended up seeing us both launch our careers and have work schedules as erratic and fickle as we are.

I started the year with the intention of writing (and DJ'ing, which luckily worked itself out, as it does) when I returned to Baltimore. I specifically focused on working at Agora, an opportunity I felt I hadn't properly explored while I attended Towson. I eventually scored an internship there, and frankly, it was one of the worst work experiences of my life. I had gone from managing a small department in Denver for a decent salary and benefits to being a "paid intern" AKA "temp" at a much bigger company that was much closer to my educational background. Still, I took what I could get.
The work was garbage. Simple. Repetitive. Menial as hell. I held a Bachelor's in Writing and a resume that had everything from web designer to graphic artist to audio engineer on it, and I get hired to do data entry. Hell, not even data entry, it was copying and pasting data over from one source to another.  This is what the world wanted from me? Needless to say, I wasn't too broken up when the "internship" ended and I was released back into the wild without so much as a good luck.
Luckily, I fell in with the BROS while I worked there. Murdercastle premiered at the same time, and as fate would have it, that would steer the course of my career in a much different direction than what I'd originally planned. It was here that I learned I could actually maybe act a little bit. The shows all sold out, we got tons of positive reviews; some people even told me that I was their favorite character despite only appearing midway through the show. Also, I got to hang out with my new friends on a constant basis and party like I hadn't partied since maybe ever. There was a hazy moment at one of these many post-show ragers where I typed a note to myself in my phone that would become my personal mantra by the end of the year.
Since then, I've decided that as long as the world was going to reward my months of job searching with soul-crushing busywork like what I'd been offered, that I was simply going to start looking for work I actually wanted to do. Since I entered the workforce, the office scene was predicated on the unsaid agreement to put up with a life of monotony in exchange for a living wage and benefits. Seven months into the year and each offer was less and less of this. I'd have to work full time and keep DJ'ing on the side just to pay my half of the rent. Why bother? So I started acting. And lo, I started to get work. Fun work. Dress up in a suit, hang out on TV show and movie sets, meet interesting new people. Really, it didn't feel like working at all, and while the pay and security weren't great good, at least I wasn't staring at a computer screen all day wishing I were somewhere else. So with this new found optimism towards working, I decided to pull the trigger on my biggest dream, the one I never thought I'd actually pursue out of fear of not being talented or trainable or disciplined enough.
I'd researched a career in voice acting before. Even made a demo with my brother's father-in-law once. But I never seriously thought I could do it. How could I? I mean, for God's sake, just listen to Rob Paulsen or Fred Tastasciore or Jim Cummings. How could I possibly compete with that? It never seemed plausible, and I didn't think I had a talent for it. But with the overwhelming support, hell, even goading I received from the BROS pushed me to start making demos, getting out there, and making a real go for it. A short few months later, and I proudly call myself a voice actor. It's going to be an uphill battle, but at least I've finally got my heart in the fight.
I've finally arrived at my career, and it truly feels like I'm entering a new era of my life. Maybe I'm arriving at my thirties a couple years in advance. I've always tried to be ahead of the curve (i.e. I'm a cranky old bastard at heart). In any case, I'm just glad to be here.

Also, Meanwhile, at the Skull Base. I can do a whole other post about what an amazing experience this has turned out to be, so I'll hold off for now. Just please, go listen. Everyone involved rules and is killing it and I'm very, very proud of it.

I still look at that note on my phone every time I think I'm not good enough or that I should quit this silly dream and go get a "real" job. "They asked me to do it, so I assume I can." Thanks again, guys. I wouldn't have made it here without you.
-Rex