This is it guys... We've completed all the tracking/recording for the record and feel really great about the way things have turned out. We've been listening to rough mixes for each track and are now debating the best mix for each song. We're also working to determine the best song order for the record. I'm sure that, with John's help, this will all work itself out and be great.
We're now days away from the mastering process and doing everything we can to promote the record and the release show locally. Look for the Release show in mid to late October and keep an eye out for us in local press and media. Right now, we're looking forward to a show at the Plaza Bowl at the end of August with Miguel. Yes, Miguel our ace drummer from the record, will be joining us at the end of the month for a fun show at the Plaza Bowl in preparation for the big CD Release event... Come hang out with us and do some duck-pin bowling - then find us again in October for the big Release!
Hey folks. A lot has happened since we left you hanging. Actually, this cat has been doing all the work. In the previous episode, we had just finished the last day of instrument overdubbing. Mainly what remained was recording the vocal tracks. We returned to the studio this week to do just that. Tyler would come in and do background vocals in the afternoons and Mark would come in after work to lay down the lead vocals. On Friday, Tyler and I finished out the lacking solo portion of “Traces of Gold” and I added only four more tracks of synthesizer (plus some mellowtron later that evening). We did this upstairs in studio B with our favorite assistant engineer, Ricky, while John was downstairs comping the previous vocal sessions. John’s been putting us through the vocal ringer, making sure that they sound absolutely great. Mark is sounded the best he ever has. Getting to use some Neumann mics doesn’t hurt either. His superior vocal technique employs potato chips and a Coors Light. We rewrote/added a new verse to “Orion’s Belt.” Howard came to visit. That was nice.
Mark was going in this afternoon to finish the last song, “Rest.” Tonight we finish the last of the background singing and hopefully add a little tambourine here, a little shaker there. Tomorrow we start the final mixing process, which will continue through next Friday. We can’t wait to hear the mixes and see all the hard work begin to take it’s final shape. Then it’s on to mastering and getting the artwork finalized so we can get moving on the release details.
Stay tuned this week for more posts, photos, and tweets.
This is our last day downstairs in Studio A. “Beauty’s Growing” is first on the list. Having finished the bass track, now is the time for guitars. Tyler and Mark do there thing. Ricky keeps mentioning “arena rock.” I add a little bit of Kevin Shields swirly Jazzmaster over the song and it’s a keeper. Next we hit “Last Day of March.” This song has undergone an interesting evolution. It’s sounded like everything from punk to stadium rock and back to new wave. Let’s just say there are now four synth tracks and some mellowtron flutes, coupled with a giant Les Paul sound. And yet, it still sounds very LT. The day ends with putting down the final bass on “Day and Night.” John pushes me for some more melodic bass lines and the result is quite nice. No vocals as of yet, as Mark is still a bit under the weather. We press on.
The day begins early as we meet with Jonathan at the studio to discuss some promotion strategy for the record. Today we move upstairs to Studio B to continue with overdubs. “Safe and Sound” is up. This is definitely the best this song has sounded. We managed to get the guitar tones just right. Then we top it off with a sweet solo, ala Dinosaur Jr and we’re set. While this is going on, I picked up some acoustic 12-string strings to “high string” my J50. This will be used to double the acoustic parts on “For You” and “Day and Night.” Next we lay down electric and acoustic parts on “Rest,” which has ended up with a bit groovier beat–90s trip-hop style. This may sound odd, but it really makes the song. Little bit of Hammond and Rhodes and we wrap that one up. We conclude the day preparing the sound for Tyler’s ebow part on “For You.” Knowing that some glockenspiel is eminent, I can sleep easy. Saturday is our last scheduled day for overdubs. Hopefully, the instruments/percussion will be finished and we can move on to some vocals for the second half of the day. We may have to add two additional days to add the vocals. Though we have been pretty efficient, the project is still a lot work to accomplish in the time we had planned. However, our chins are up.
In our second day of overdubs, we can see the songs beginning to take shape as we build on the foundation of Miguel's drumming and Matt's bass playing. Mark is battling a cold/allergy thing, so we've decided to get all the guitar and keyboard parts down and save vocals for the last couple days. Two things are becoming clear to us as we're putting the instrumental "meat" on the rythm bones: 1) The rythm section is so huge and groovy that we don't have to overdo instrumentation --they sound big already! Some of these tunes are definitely going to have a "dance around the house" factor. 2) The guitar and keys tones we're capturing are pretty majestic as well. This is definitely a rock album, no apologies. When you lay beautiful melodies over these sounds; well, you get those occasional goosebumps that keep us coming back.
Back to reality -- it's midnight, and this Noon to Midnight (or later) schedule every day is tiring. Matt is laying down the last bass track of the day. We're going to be hard pressed to finish all the tracking in the days we have scheduled. Mark is taking Robitussin shots trying to fend off a cough/cold. My ears are exhausted, and my kids may have forgotten my name by the time they see me again. But . . . these are the challenges that make this exciting. You work hard and invest money and time chasing those magical moments when these songs you've created come together and carry you to some transcendent reality. We think it will be worth the risk . . .
So... Sunday and Monday brought us the completion of all the drum tracks (Miguel is a beast!) which brings us to Tuesday morning and our first day of overdubbing! This is the point we get to start the 'mad science' (we like to call it) of creating the sonic vibe of the record. We couldn't be more excited. Although we're pretty fired up about today's events, we were kind of bummed to realize late last night (and finalized this morning) that we probably won't be able to record 'Weather' this time around. Unfortunately time and budget are working against us, but we're optimistic we'll be back in the not so distant future and 'Weather' will be at the top of the list.
Anyways... As I type, Tyler has a mass of pedals sprawled out in front of him and John has brought down all sorts of other 'contraptions' to run the guitars through - most of which look like they've been around for decades.... I couldn't begin to tell you what they do - that's Matt and Tyler's job to wear capes and strap on their mad scientist personas. Out.
Greetings. So things are really underway now. I’ll backtrack some to get you caught up. Thursday morning we meet up, grab some gear, hit Costco, eat some chicken and head down to Broad Street. We have four days of tracking scheduled for Studio A, which is on the first floor. The main room is quite large and the drum kit is set up in the middle. The guitar amps are put in isolation rooms to minimize the sound bleed. Everyone has their own headphone mix to monitor as we track. It’s a nice set up to have everyone in the room so we can rock out, vibe, or whatever. A good part of the first day is spent getting the drums, drum mics, and room mics set up. As we were getting setting up, John and I discovered my tuner pedal was jacked. While it still works as a tuner, it was killing my signal and adding nasty hiss. Easy fix. It’s out of the chain. Now the bass, along with some shiny new strings, is sounding vicious. Tyler has brought the Reverend out of semi-retirement and it’s lending its growl to the mix.
Finally, mid-afternoon we begin with “Safe and Sound.” We run a couple takes then break for dinner. We’re off to Tarrant’s for fish tacos—delicious. Full-bellied, we return and knock out the bass and drum tracks. John is meticulous in his direction and editing. The song has never sounded better. After punching in a few fills and bass parts, we move on to “Superstar Me.” This song is going to sound big.
Day seven starts off with eats at Black Sheep. The day is spent working on “Shop You Around” and “Traces of Gold”—our now self-ascribed Olympic theme-song. We’ve added an extended instrumental section that is sounding real nice. Even the interns are humming along. Keywords for the day: Van Halen Shreds, squeeze of lime, prog rock, tarrant’s white pizza, mu-tron bass.
Saturday is a day off, so we’ll be back in noon Sunday.
Hello. This is a recording diary that we’ll update as we make progress on the new record, tentatively titled “Traces of Gold.” We’ll be working with producer John Morand as well as Miguel Urbiztondo at Sound of Music Studios in Richmond, VA.