Studio Updates

Spent the weekend recording with Josh Harty at Studio 23 here in Madison. This was the second time I've recorded with Josh, the last time was a humorous disaster one weekend in Minneapolis. Ask me about it sometime. The session went much more smoothly this time around. Mark Hisey of the Selfish Gene and Joe Martinson of Auburn were the rhythm section this time around.

Friday night we all setup late, rehearsed and did a couple of takes of one tune, "One Particular Day In December". These takes were discarded the next day after changing some mics on the drums. Saturday we got a late start due to a flat tire, but we managed to get all the bass and drum takes that day. Josh had a bit of a meltdown when it came to recording his tune, "Which Way I Go". The tune is probably his most commercial, which of course doesn't sit well with him. We tracked two versions, one was a New Orleans-type shuffle, the other a slightly slower reading of the version he does live currently. Otherwise, the Saturday went down without a hitch.

Sunday I tracked both rhythm and lead guitars. Takes went pretty quickly. In fact I was able to do a few in one take which is a bit of an ego trip for musicians. One tune, which I only know by the name "Letter", wound up with a completly different guitar part than the one I've been performing with Josh live. I normally play a baiĆ£o rhythm for the verses and a Scofield-in-Cuba type solo. What wound up going down was more of a detuned Dick Dale type single note line through the whole tune, including the solo. I'm really excited to hear how it turns out in the mix! Other hightlights were the solo on "Empire Bar" which gave me chills, and the banjo on "One Particular Day In December" (a one-take affair!).

I'm really excited to hear this record once it's done. I think the group did a great job of interpreting Josh's vision for each tune and for the record as a whole. I also have to mention the engineer, Jeff, who was really efficient, laid-back and helpful all around. The studio itself was a joy to work in. It's a very creative space with a buch of old broken down instruments strewn about in a couple of rooms that look like a well used artist's studio. Jeff has a great approach to getting sounds and performances out of people. I think that if I can get Tank! back up and running this summer, I'll probably work with him to record. A great experience all around this weekend.

The record is slated to be released on or before July 1st. Look for it in stores, on the internet, and if Josh remembers, at gigs. It promises to be a great record!


We're making records, that what we're doing! (pt. II)

So, as promised, an update on record making activities this weekend. Unfortunately, there's nothing to report. Sessions have been cancelled (at least I found out yesterday) for the weekend. I may wind up back at Effigy this week for a couple of hours. Apparently the guy from Candlebox will be laying a solo on one of the tunes this Monday.

I can't say that I'm entirely disappointed with the way things have turned out. I definitely had my own ideas about how and what I should play on the session. Jack, the engineer/owner and now producer, had different ideas. So I can't say that I'm surprised that I'm being moved off the session. I just kind of wish people would be straight forward about it.

I definitely learned some good lessons this past week. One, unless you're paying me, I'm going to play it my way. Period. End of story. Actually, unless you have a really good reason and are able to explain that reason to me, AND you're paying me a lot of money, I'm going to play it my way. It's not worth the frustration and time for me to do otherwise. People ask me to play on their records because of who I am. If they want something else they can go find it.

Two, the amount of preproduction on a project should be at least an order of magnitude greater than the amount of time spent in the studio. Of course, this is if you have a limited budget and want a decent outcome. This will be of particular use to me as I prepare for the next Dorothy Heralds album and my planned recordings this summer.

Three, I'll never feel bad about playing someone else's part and not getting it in one take. I guess this kind of goes back to what I was saying above. If I have to read a chart and watch someone for cues and try to cop someone's feel at the same time then I'm already doing more than I should be expected to do. I won't feel bad because if I'm in this situation, then I'm helping someone out of a bind.

In closing, I do want to thank everyone that was involved in the session. Thanks of course to Trin for having me there. Thanks to Bill, Buddo, and Gary, all great guys to play and hang out with. (Bill still intimidates the hell out of me.) Thanks to Perry and Jake at Effigy for their input and hard work. I'll let you all know if anything else happens with this. If not, next on the plate is Josh Harty next weekend. I'll be playing banjo and guitar on that one. I'll also be spending a lot of time finishing up demos for TDH this week.

Have fun!


We're making records, that's what we're doing! (pt. I)

I spent this past weekend at E Multimedia Studios (formerly Effigy) working with Trinity James on what will hopefully become his first full length album. It was definitely interesting to experience what has been hyped to me as "the best drum room" in Madison. Cats on the session were Trinity of course, Buddo of Last Crack fame, Gary Chin from the Dorothy Heralds, and Bill Collins of All The Way Rider.

The session was supposed to be a one day lock-out where we went in, got sounds and hashed out the tunes live in the studio. However, through whims of destiny it became a multi-day session that I hope will be completed this next Sunday. Saturday (Day One) most of us sat around while the engineers were getting sounds. Then suddenly I was recruited to play Trin's guitar parts while he was singing. From there the whole group of us were rounded up to play. Unfortuneately, Bill, Gary and I were all reading charts and a number of mistakes were made. Instead of just fixing the missed notes, etc. We wound up cleaning up the drum tracks and calling it a night.

The next day, Gary laid basses (with a pick!) and I came in for a missing Bill and laid basic rhythm tracks. Trin's going to be in the studio laying vocals this week and Saturday I'm scheduled to go back in to lay fills, color and solos. Hopefully this will all turn into an album by next week. If not, he'll have a pretty decent sounding four to six song demo that he can sell at shows. I'll post again after this weekend with events and thoughts on the whole process. It's the month for studio work. Next week, Trin again. Week after, I'll be recording Josh Harty's new record. Two weeks later, The Dorothy Heralds sessions begin. Whew! (My eighth notes should be pretty damn even by the time I'm done with all this!)