Tag Archives: “brakes”

Intimate Objects, Confidence, and what happens next?

Intimate Objects was actually my first full solo release back in 2013. Barring two songs (“Like A Broken String” and the original version of “Brakes”), I wrote and recorded the whole thing over the span of a week. Two of its songs became Pneumatic Girls tunes (“A Team of Bumblebees” and “Near Misses”) and “Brakes” has been refined for the album I’ve been working on most recently.

I’m starting to view this as part of the process of writing – a flurry of semi-improvised ideas that evolve and later emerge as a tight, cohesive piece. I’ve never really known what my process is, and generally have considered it to be somewhat random (or maybe even chaotic).

This new album is going to be called Confidence. It is the result of a song cycle that actually began way back in 2000 with a Tascam four track. 15 years as a span of developing work seems like an awfully long time, doesn’t it? Still, that’s where we are.

And with that, I also understand that a new cycle has begun last year. I don’t know where it will take me, though. Not yet. Actually, I think I’ll let it surprise me as it tends to do.

XL. Studio Update!

Hit the studio to overdub guitars for the new batch of songs, just Harry and I. It was a far more grueling session than I had counted on – two of the new songs (“Brakes” and “Ampersands”) are the fastest I’ve ever recorded, pace-wise, and I definitely felt my shortcomings as a guitarist come to the fore. Pushing my own guitar skills to keep up with Stephen’s precise, uptempo, drum parts got frustrating at times. Harry kept me grounded, and we got through it.

On a positive note, we experimented with multiple guitars, including a Rickenbacker 12-string and a sweet Fender baritone guitar! “Ampersands” now boasts a somewhat strange lead guitar part on said baritone. It’s a crazy tone. Allow me to get all studio nerd on you for a second:

*dons studio nerd glasses*

We ran the baritone through my Big Muff fuzz pedal, and then through my Boss Vibrato pedal. That’s a crazy pedal, sorta rare. I guess the Boss pedals manufactured in Japan are harder to find? Anyway, I dialed in the rate to a somewhat slow, watery speed, and pulled the depth back so it didn’t wobble too much. We may have run it through the Hall of Fame reverb pedal as well (I like the modulated setting on it A LOT), but I don’t recall.

We have been using Harry’s Fender Twin Reverb amp for most of the recording, but he has this small tube amp that has a real biting tone and we used it to record some of the more distorted, fuzzy guitar parts.

*removes studio nerd glasses*

One thing I really look forward to, especially on these two songs, is adding synthesizer parts. Both songs in their original demos nod to groups like New Order and Tubeway Army (Gary Numan’s early band project). I’m a big fan of both, and the thought of some of that influence seeping in really makes me happy. So far, the record is far more guitar-driven than a lot of my work, and that’s not a bad thing … but to come full circle, I am by and large a keyboardist and synthesis. Guitar does not come easily to me!

xo