Archive for August, 2008

Long Live the Ashes Studio Blog – Day 5

Today was a complete change of pace. All of us were exhausted after a late night of unwinding, talking, and listening to tunes for far too long. After getting about three and a half hours of sleep I woke up with Dave and dove right back into drum edits. Which took a good amount of time. I was so exhausted, I ended up going back to sleep for an hour while Jason tackled some more bass tracks.

Waking back up, I ended up tracking the very last drumset parts to the song, “Say She Is.” This was probably the closest thing to a ballad that I would play on for the record in terms of the drum feel. We got some really nice warm sounds, and I ended up using a pair of 17” crashes for my hi-hats, which really helped develop a nice cushion of sound under the brushwork. Overall, the feel on this tune is probably the most organic from my standpoint, and while editing it later, we ended up leaving a lot of that pushing and pulling in to convey the conflict of emotions that comes out in the song. I feel like this song was the most important to me, in terms of pouring my heart into my playing. Even before the session began on Sunday, I’d felt a real connection to this song and how it made me feel when I would listen to it. Hopefully, I did that feeling and the song justice.

After that, we shifted gears for the final two tracks I had to work on. We revisited “Into the Wild” to finish the rest of the song with cajon. Having only tracked drumset at the very end, the cajon became the foundation and pulse of the rest of the rhythm tracks on this song. Really digging into the complexity of this song’s progression, we established a very simplistic groove with the organic tones from the cajon, with the snares disengaged… this gave it a very natural woody tone with an incredible bass sound. After building the remainder of that track, I tracked the cajon on one more song, “Oh My Lover,” in a different fashion but with a similar approach and tone… giving it a more driving feel while leaving a lot of space for things to come, in terms of guitar and possible string arrangements.

Some of my favorite moments in the remainder of the last day were getting to hear Jason play his acoustic upright bass over the last two tracks I mentioned. While dialing in his tone, Tom and I were party to hearing his joyful exclamations in response to how good his bass sounded. We couldn’t resist echoing his joy in the control room. Jason’s performance on the upright was really inspiring and I think will help to really shape the feel of these songs.

After listening back to the last few tracks, and closing the last session in the control room, I felt genuinely elated. We’ve really accomplished a lot in these last 5 days. I’m 100% exhausted, but I feel great, and am more excited than I can say about hearing how this album turns out. It’s almost torturous, knowing that tracking will continue for another 2 weeks, and then it will be a while before the album is mixed, mastered, and pressed. Luckily, I’ll be heading back to overdub all the percussion parts sometime in that next two weeks for a day or two to add all the finishing touches, so I’ll at least get to hear how things have progressed since leaving.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll pack up all the ridiculous amounts of gear that I brought in here and head back home. I’m glad to return to my house, bed, dog, and girlfriend (who’s been infinitely patient with me), but at the same time, I’ll miss this time with the guys. It’s really been an inspiring experience, and the time spent with Kevin (“Dutch The Predator”), Tom (“Tusk”), & Jason (“The Jason the Marauder”) has been amazing, and will definitely stick with me for a long time. Thanks to all those guys for making the experience what it was, and thanks Dave (“Mad Dog”), Nathan (“Chainz”), Brandon (“Renegade”), Adam (“Viper”), & Steve (“Sooper Soak”) at  Earthwork for keeping us laughing and sane.


Long Live the Ashes Studio Blog – Day 4

Just to give everyone an idea of the atmosphere of the live room (aka: my lair for the week), I thought I’d include the picture above. For those of you who aren’t familiar with recording, here are a couple of interesting tidbits to consider:

  1. Atmosphere is important. Whether it’s in physical, mental, or emotional sense… being in the right state of being when tracking is essential if you’re going to convey the right feeling in a song. A simple way to get laid back for a mellow song is to avoid glaring lights shining down on you… hence the use of the lamps and the cool red globe thing. Not pictured is a red neon sign that says “Love” in script, which was located directly in front of me.
  2. Time warp. Being immersed in the writing/recording process in the studio, one easily loses track of time. Adding to the complication is the fact that the live room and control room (where we spent the majority of our time) have no outside walls, so we’re completely dependent on artificial light. Basically, that means we don’t see the sun, so we’re not thinking about it being early or late. It’s just time to concentrate on the task at hand. That being the case… keeping track of what happened when becomes very difficult after a few days in this sort of setting.

So, keeping those things in mind. I hardly remember anything that happened yesterday. Looking back on yesterday’s entry is about the extent of what I can recall, and that’s it.

This morning started again with a trip to the local coffee roaster’s, where I opted to pick up a pound of their Highlander Grog grounds, to share with everyone in the studio. I honestly wasn’t too crazy about how it tasted, but it made the lounge smell AWESOME.

Moving on, the rest of the day went very well and we were able to get through all of the songs we had planned. One of the songs we worked on was titled “Midnight.” This song is unique of those that will appear on the album, in that Tom Atha actually wrote this song while he and I played together in the band American Cherry, a few years ago. That being the case, there was definitely some familiarity, which was good, but it also presented the problem of trying to take a fresh look at it, and attempt to direct the song more to Kevin’s style, rather than American Cherry’s. After a little bit of tweeking to the feel and form, I think we something really special with it, and I’m thrilled with how the drum tracks came out.

The rest of the evening consisted of more drum edits then bass tracking. We then tackled the first of the mellowest songs on the album, “Into the Wild.” This one was complex enough to spend a long time attempting to hash out what exactly was going to happen, and after much deliberation, we were able to come to a consensus and made the first effort at the drum tracks. The actual drumset parts were quite limited, and eventually, I’ll be returning to overdub a lot of the percussion that will fill the space. That being said, I think what we settled on for the drumset part was really appropriate and conveyed a great feeling for the song.

Long Live the Ashes Studio Blog – Day 3

Currently Listening to: My drum tracks being edited

After sleeping in a little longer than anticipated, we all headed down to the studio to get the morning started with some editing. While Dave (2nd engineer) began working on my tracks, I took the opportunity to clean up the train wreck I’d left in the live room after changing out snare drums and cymbals all night last night. After organizing things, it was time for a coffee run and then back into the control room to listen to the edits.

This afternoon, we all received club names to be used for the remainder of the session. I was named “Tugbote.” In fact, I believe that everyone else chose their own names, but since I was not present at name choosing time, mine was decided for me.

I made a ridiculous amount of rotini for everyone in the apartment while “Mad Dog” (Dave) worked on the tracks I cut last night. Editing ran over, time-wise, which left us farther behind than we had anticipated, so the rest of the work the had to be done for the afternoon had to be pushed back on the schedule. On the upside, the time took editing actually allowed me some time to help capture more video and write quite a bit more about what’s going on here.

Starting at around 4pm, we finally got back to tracking, starting with “The Jason the Marauder” (Jason) on bass guitar for “Hourglass,” “Silhouette,” and “Lost You Before.” After knocking those out in one fell swoop, we moved onto scratching and tracking drums on the tentatively named “Bruce 2” and “Eighteen.”

These songs were a little more aggressive (drumming-wise) than the previously tracked songs, so I had to spend some time finding the right sounds. Soon enough, though, we were off to a good start, and we were able to put together some really solid, supportive drum parts for these tunes.

After tracking and editing these last two songs, we went on to work on the last song of the night, which was “Siren.” This one took a bit more care in crafting, as it could have gone a few different ways. We spent the rest of the night hashing through it and then tracking drums for it. Having settled on a more relaxed feel, we had to get a few different drum tones, but then it was smooth sailing.

Long Live the Ashes Studio Blog – Day 2

Currently Listening to: D’Angelo – Spanish Joint

Today was a complete change of pace in the recording process. Between solidifying parts for new tunes, laying down scratch tracks, then actually laying down the final drum tracks for “Hourglass,” “Lost You Before,” and “Silhouette,” I’m estimating that I was playing my kit for the better part of eight hours or so today. It was awesome and exhausting.

Some highlights of the day:

  1. *Giving Tom fashion tips on sunglasses at the local coffee shop (see above)
  2. *Tracking some really different drum kit parts for “Hourglass” … and taking up 32 channels to do it.
  3. *Rooftop Cookout & Cornhole

* Getting the first bits of video documentation of the session

Finally Tom (producer & engineer) and I were getting too fried to keep a fresh perspective on things, so we called it a night. Tomorrow, drum edits will begin and then we’ll dive back into tracking.

Long Live the Ashes Studio Blog – Day 1

Currently Listening to: Ray Lamontagne – Trouble

Today was move in day at Earthwork Recording Studio for Kevin Dean’s upcoming “Long Live the Ashes” album. After getting all the gear in, set up, mic’ed up, and level-checked, we dove straight into the first day of rehearsing and really hashing out basic arrangements. We managed to get two songs scratched, and ready to start tracking for tomorrow morning.

I’ve identified my morning coffee destination across the town square, and I plan paying them a visit in the morning while the other guys are exercising. After that, I’ll kick everything off with drums for the first two songs, and then hopefully hop into the lounge to clear my head with some more coffee and maybe get some more blogging done.

All in all, we had a great first day, and spirits are very high going into the first day of tracking tomorrow. Stay tuned. This is just the beginning.