Tag Archives: recording music

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.

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.