Tag Archives: harry koniditsiotis

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

XXXVII. Big Exciting Recording Update, In Yr Face!

TEN SONGS in. Yes, you heard me right. Bashed out the beginnings of four tunes with those lovely gents, and the results are above and beyond my own expectations.

I think what really surprised me is how a couple of the songs transformed along the way. “Texas Can’t Have You Back”, which I have long considered something of a shoegazey beast, magically reshaped into old-guard Country-and-Western in the beautiful picking of one Tony Manard. And “Ampersands”, which at various times has been a glorious New Order homage and an upbeat country rock number, has become drunk from the beat of Stax Records – Tony and Eric “Wolf” Wilson and the tight time of one Stephen Chopek. I think the consensus is that it should open the album.

We also laid down “Quiet Houses”, which is a very very old song of mine (14 years, at least?) and took a stab at “Brakes” which became a fuzzed-out 90s alt.rock throwback. It was sort of a mistake. Well, are creative moments ever truly mistakes? I had the Big Muff on, when I had originally considered only using some overdrive. Voila, Nirvana!

So I tip my hat to Harry K (once again!), the Wolf, Tony, and Stephen. My goodness, boys, what have we here!

XXIX. Studio Talk: Session Three

Another session at Five and Dime with J.D. (and Eric dropped in … as it turns out he was an integral part of things) for acoustic guitar, hand percussion and vocal work.

Harry and I *did* sneak away to watch about five minutes of Happy Days, and managed to catch the end of Gilligan’s Island, too. Ahhhh, Tina Louise.

Let’s be honest, here. It got pretty silly last night. We did some “gang vocals” – for the uninitiated, it’s where you do a vocal take with several people all at once. It can be powerful, or it can sound a bit like a bunch of drunkards singing a song together in a pub. Well, we sort of hit both with a little bit of “chorus of Muppets” (I’m so sorry, Jim Henson) mixed in. Specifically on “Sunday Drunk”. On “We Died Laughing”, the gang vocals carried the song in more of a Queen-ish direction. Or Journey … to be honest, maybe more like Journey than Queen. We did some on “An Episode” as well, but I don’t think they come off as silly in the least.

J.D. and I played a few takes on acoustic – meaning we both played acoustics at the same time. I am NOT known for my acoustic guitar prowess, so I really hope his parts come off a lot louder. Also, he threw down some percussion on all five tracks. This will be the album for tambourine lovers, that’s for sure! He did actually do some electric guitar on a couple tracks last night, too. Rhythm stuff. I think that worked out well, because my electric guitar work is usually pretty moody and murky, and a couple of these songs kinda needed straight up distorted guitar. There’s a good rhythm bed now, and Matthew’s guitar work will take these songs to yet another level.

Then there was the matter of “Lost In the Fire”. It, in its original form, definitely bears a strong resemblance to Radiohead’s first big hit, “Creep”. Honestly, I don’t mind that too much, but we felt like we could make it a little more interesting by making it less so. So we fired up the organ and I ran through a couple droney takes. The first organ-driven shoegazer song? Hmm. No, probably not, but I like what it brings to the song.

Lastly, there was some work on the mix. Eric sorta called me out on wanting to fuss over the mix too soon, but to be honest I would prefer not to spend a lot of time at the end cooking up the right sound. Let’s catch it on the front end as much as possible, I say.

XIX. Everything Dead Is Probably Still Dead Again

In case you hadn’t heard, The Pneumatic Girls are no more. No more hiding behind a band name or guise, no more group identities. It’s time I just embraced making music as ME, Jack Alberson.

And so demoing has begun, and five songs have been started on at Five & Dime with the honorable Harry K presiding … having done such a fine job with the PGs, why WOULDN’T I go with him for this?

J.D. Reager, mighty drummer extraordinaire, and as usual Eric Wilson (or The Wolf, as I like to call him), and a blatant disregard for grammar and sentence structure in this blog post. Key ingredients.

Funding is a bit hard to come by but I’ll figure it out. I welcome your suggestions, gentle readers. Also, this site has been ported over from the now-deleted thepneumaticgirls.com so I apologize if its individual identity is slow in coming. Baby steps, babies.

JA

XVIII. All Kinds of Singing – Memphis Flyer Mentions

Joe Boone with the Memphis Flyer posted about last week’s Otherlands show on the Sing All Kinds blog (link), and had this to say:

“Imperial Lanes is a varied mix of pop. It was recorded by Harry Koniditsiotis. ‘A Team of Bumblebees’ has a Manchestery reverberation to it: drony guitars, drums so lush they sound like their coming from next door. ‘Girl of My Dreams’ has a wonderfully tweaked guitar solo. The whole record sounds pure and unforced, even as the sounds evolve from track to track.”

Thanks to Joe and the Flyer for the write-up!

IV. The Obligatory End of Year Post

Happy holidays, everybody!

I guess we’ve actually been at this for a year now, huh? What started out as Sunday afternoon fun has pushed forth into smoky Midtown bars and art communes in Arkansas. There are tons of people to thank, and I like to think we make sure and let them know as often as possible that they are appreciated.

Two organizations in particular that merit a bit of a public shout-out would be The Poplar Lounge, who gave us a place to work on how to express these ideas in front of people, and La Lucha Space in Conway, Arkansas who showed us performing live doesn’t necessarily have to be guided by the beer light (to crib a phrase from David Bowie). Thank you, friends.

Also, what would this year be like were it not for the sharp ear and deft hand of one Harry Koniditsiotis? Six songs into recording album numero uno and he’s coaxed some amazing things out of us. Two or three more tunes and I think we can call it finished. Thank you, cap’n.

I need to make sure you know that this whole affair seemed sort of improbable when 2013 began. I need to make sure you know that this would not have happened without Patrick Glass and Maggie Bausch, who were around when this started and whose busy schedules precipitated a change of personnel. They are Pneumatic Girls as well, and will always be.

I don’t know about 2014. Who does? I do hope the momentum continues on and that we can play more music for you, whether it’s on your stereo or laptop, or during another night out on the town with cheap beer and chain smokers.

We love you!
Jack P and the Girls

III. Matchbox Saints and Disappearing Girls

The thought of putting out a single to precede our debut album came to me in perhaps early November, when we received rough mixes for the second batch of songs we recorded. A couple of liberties were taken and we had a guest player for the song “Fall” – Jason Pulley, piano man about town whom I spent time with in the Near Reaches.

Stop right there, actually. The original thought was to have him reprise his counter-melody on the song “(If I Held You) Close To Me”, but then Harry had the brilliant idea to have Jason play organ on “Fall”…to tap into the early Nineties Madchester vibe a la the Charlatans.

When the mixes came back, I recall thinking “Fall” had been transformed by this eleventh-hour addition, and I asked Harry if I could do a separate mix using the original multitracks. All told, I don’t know how different this “single mix” will actually be from the final album mix, but I made sure the organ had a prominent role.

It seemed silly to burn CD-Rs with just one track, so I turned to the live recordings we’d been making during our residency at the Poplar Lounge. One particular week turned out fairly well, so I pulled the six most solid tracks from that recording to make up the rest of this EP. Regrettably, you don’t get much of an audience vibe from these tracks – for whatever reason, the Poplar Lounge can be a hard sell – but you can tell the band sounds like four people who honestly enjoy what they’re doing together.

I don’t entirely know when the album will come out – I think the aim is to record maybe three more tracks. It seems pretty obvious that “Girl, Disappear” should be one of them, and perhaps “Lost In the Fire”. We’ll leave that decision to a band fresh off a December holiday, though. Maybe 2014 will be our year.