Tag Archives: Stephen Chopek

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

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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!

XXXVI.

With some new people following this blog (picture me frantically waving hello) I figure I should make an update on the record I’ve been working on.

First off, there are some incredible people playing on it. My Near Reaches friends J.D. Reager, Eric WIlson and Jason Pulley have been in and tracked on five songs so far (“We Died Laughing”, “Lost In the Fire”, “Sunday Drunk”, “For My Favorite” and “An Episode”). There’s a lot of energy in these performances. I tracked one song alone, several months ago (“Treat Yourself”). Soon, I’ll be working with Eric again, along with Stephen Chopek on drums and Tony Manard from The Switchblade Kid on a couple more tracks (at least … depends on how fast we work!) Then at some point, hopefully, my dear friend and Pneumatic Girls guitarist Matthew Trisler will come in and play some incredible guitar bits.

There is a GoFundMe site up for this project – please consider chipping in and get yourself some lovely music as well as a few other perks.