remembering

Yes, it’s another reference to the title of a song, the one I’ve been putting down tremolo guitar for the last 4 days. It’s really starting to shape up, it has a nice ‘sound’. Just about all that’s left (electric guitar-wise) is laying down rockin’ guitars for chorus and bridge. I’m actually quite looking forward to going home this evening and editing the tremolo stuff together, it just sounds great. Not that editing isn’t always fun, but sometimes, it’s just more fun than other times.

how many edits?

I just got back in town from vacation, and sat down to continue working on the record. In the process of lining up a drum track to more closely map to the song’s tempo, it became necessary to eventually do individual edits that numbered in the hundreds. This can be very tedious and time-consuming, and there are many pitfalls. When editing to bring a track into timing, the idea is to make small changes that don’t affect the overall sound, but fix issues that can make a track sound jerky or off-time, hopefully making the track or tracks sounds it sound as perfect as possible, with no audible audio artifacts. When you’re trying to get the best audio tracks possible, small errors can have a big impact, so fixing small errors becomes paramount. However, there is a line that can be easily crossed that involves micro-editing and editing to achieve a certain “look” for the waveform, sometimes in detriment to the musicality of the track itself. For example, you see that a run of snare hits should land right on the beat, but they are out of time slightly. So you line the snare drums up to the tempo, but when you listen to it back, it doesn’t sound right. So I’ve found that when doing these types of edits, it’s always wise to a) make an unedited copy of the track before doing any edits and b) to listen back regularly to the sounds in context to make sure they’ve gained what you’re looking for (in this case, better timing), and to ensure that you haven’t lost something in the process (smoothness, musicality). The test of “How Many Edits” is still, like most things musical, arbited by your ears, so listen closely.

drum recording is finished!

It’s been such a long time coming, but principal drum recording for the new record is finished! It started so long ago, and to actually have all the drum recordings be done is so exciting. Bart recorded the first 2-3 songs, I believe, back in 2008. Then Randy joined up sometime early in 2009 to record the majority of the songs that were left. However, there were three songs that still needed to be recorded after he was done with the lion’s share of recording in mid-2009. So last evening Randy was able to come over and we finished three songs, all brand new! We have developed a great working relationship together and it showed yesterday, because Randy came ready to play, and we were able to use different methods we had developed over the spring and summer during the first sessions to knock out all three songs on the list, in addition to overdubs! It was amazing, and I am really looking forward to completing the other steps. Wahooo!

bass done

So it looks like I’ve finished the bass recordings for the CD (barring the possibility of getting three more songs on the list), and I’m pretty pleased. My poor bass felt like it was going to fall apart though (the tuning peg screws are being pulled out of the neck), and because of that, it was very difficult to keep the bass in tune. The strings are really old too (I’ve never changed them), but because I was afraid that changing the strings would be the end of the line for the bass, it made the tuning issue worse I’m sure. (Old strings are hard to keep in tune. In general, the older, the harder.) For the most part I managed to record the bass in tune…it just took a few tries and some futzing with the tuning for the individual songs.
So as of now, that leaves some acoustic guitar (not a lot), and most of the electric guitars, and then the other stuff (keys, strings, spoons, whatever). That still seems like a lot, but I assume the guitar stuff will go somewhat more quickly, especially the acoustic stuff. The electric parts might take awhile since I haven’t mapped everything out yet, but it still shouldn’t be that far down the road.

keep it rollin’

More progress…bass lines have been recorded and edited for both “Spotlight” and “Who Am I”. I still need to listen to “Who Am I” one more time to make sure, but it seemed good last night. That only leaves a couple of tracks that need bass (from the tracks that have drums). There are still 3 songs that need drums…not sure on the timing of that. However, there is so much to work on, that those sessions could be months away. The next step after I’m satisfied with the basslines will be going back and checking to see if acoustic guitars are good on the songs, and then on to electric guitars. I should start trying to make my sessions more efficient if possible…rather than just focusing on one project a day, try to work and finish two tasks a day, and if there is time for more, all the better. But one thing a day could take forever….

i think i see the spotlight

HAHAHA, inventively naming my blog postings after the songs I’m working on, HILARIOUS!!!
Anyway, worked for a few hours last night on “Spotlight”, a song that I wasn’t even sure about appearing on the record, but after having recorded drums, seems very likely to appear. It’s a pretty straightforward rock song (not many will pick up on the 5/4 stuff in the verses), and has a nice bridge which brings the whole song together. After a few fits and starts, and adjusting the room to eliminate as much rattling as possible, the recording went fairly quickly. It is a short song, so I expected it to go more quickly than it did, but I think the results are good. I’ll listen tonight and hopefully there won’t be any recording issues, and I can just put everything together and have another rhythm section in the can.

found it

Worked last night on the bassline for “Find A Ride”. It looks like the recording is good…it did take all three steps (see earlier blog). Tonight, edit that track and work a little bit on “Spotlight”, a song I wrote when I was attending many, many open mikes. I’ll have to admit, making myself keep up with the blog is helping me. This is one of those projects that is so big that it has to be broken down into manageable parts. Having this blog to write into (even if no one is reading it) is helping me reach that goal.

seek and you shall find

Part of last evening was spent working on the bassline for the song “Find a Ride”. In most cases, I have been using a 3-step process to record bass: The first step is just to play through the song a few times, working out different basslines and recording the takes; that’s what I did last night. The next step is to listen to those takes part by part and pick the best ideas, and lay those ideas down in a ‘scratch’ track (a track that won’t likely be used). The performances and sound quality don’t have to be perfect for the first two steps, because in all likelihood, they won’t be used. Then, after I have all the ideas and am feeling pretty confident with the parts, I start the actual recording process where I finalize what I want to play. There are usually some changes at this point, but by that time, I pretty much know what I want.

editation

editation: n. 1) similar to meditation, this describes the feeling of satisfaction that comes from successfully editing a part
I just made that word up, but I feel very good about last night’s editing of the bassline from Monday. I’m very happy, and the track already sounds fantastic. It really, really grooves.

deliver

Well, last night I had a blast. I recorded the bassline for “Deliverance”, a pretty funky song that I really enjoyed playing. I hope it’s the take anyway, I didn’t go back and listen and see if there was anything I wanted to be different. Normally, I’ll record some runthroughs with different styles and see which parts I like the best, then record later after picking which sounds best. With this song, I had already done most of the runthroughs and spent most of my time coming up with parts for the choruses and bridge. I was certainly jumping around the room playing the song during the really funky parts though–what a blast. Sometimes recording is a grind; but not last night.

bassosaurus

So I edited the bass track for ‘Acrobat’ last night, it sounds really good. I would’ve put down some scratch bass tracks for another song, but I sliced two of my fingers yesterday morning. I suppose that tonight I will need to do editing as well since I don’t think I can play bass with a band-aid on.
I know some people may know this, but there is a difference between mixing and editing. Editing usually involves finding the best takes amongst a few different takes and fitting the best ones together into one seamless take. For example, I record A and B takes, aiming for excellent quality on both, and then listen to both of them, picking what I think is the best for each section. Mixing however, involves making sure that the EQ is right, that the levels remain constant throughout the performance, that the track blends well with the other tracks, that kind of thing. Mixing is usually much more involved as it involves many more factors.

recording news

Well, now that fall/winter is about to arrive in earnest, so will working on the record. The end of the year is always a prolific time for me so I’m looking forward to it. Last night I listened to some bass takes I had done for a song called ‘Acrobat’ and made notes on what I liked or didn’t like. Then, I recorded a few takes and they sounded good; I will edit those bass lines probably tonight.
This is probably the biggest project I have ever tried to do, basically, on my own. Now, I have had many engineers and musicians come in so far, but in the sense that I have been behind the boards in way or another since the beginning (I had a producer for the previous album), it is much larger. Originally, I was going to release all the songs as acoustic versions in early 2007, but I wasn’t happy with those versions. Now, drums have been recorded for most of the album and I’m in the process of putting down bass lines for the songs with drums. Next will be electric guitars, then keys and/or percussion, then vocals. I’ve got a long way to go, but hopefully utilizing this blog will help me stay disciplined and motivated. Wish me luck!

more info on the show

Here’s a link to the flyer for the show. It’s going to be next Thursday from 6-8pm in downtown Evanston. It’s a promotion for a new product and the performance will coincide with the 12×12 art show, where local artists submit their art and it will be on display. So while you’re walking around looking at art and the Blick promotional stuff, you’ll have me providing the soundtrack. I’m going to get a couple of new covers and hopefully a new original ready for the show.

new news

First warning…there is a show in Evanston on September 24, somewhere near the Blick store downtown on Maple Ave. I got a look at the flyers today and they look great! It will be a great gig and Dani and the folks at Blick are have been awesome about getting me on all their promotional stuff.
Also, the drum recording sessions are moving right along. Randy came in last evening and we worked on a song ‘Spotlight’, a song that has a lot of potential with a full production. We have managed to knock out about 10 songs over the last few months and have about 4-5 more to do. Thanks a bunch Randy, you’re doing a great job.

some live stuff

Here are a few songs from the recent Hops and Barley gig. I could only record the room, so there is a fair bit of people yakking in the background, but you get the gist of the performances. Cheers!

“You’re the One” – JC Jordan
“Love Is” / “Prop 8” – JC Jordan
“Save Tonight” – Eagle-Eye Cherry (cover)
“Fuck Her Gently” – Tenacious D (cover) <-- biggest applause of the night, lol “Hey Jude” – The Beatles (cover)
“Wonderwall” – Oasis (cover)

guitar parts

I continued working on guitar parts for one of the songs I’m working on. The verses went great, but the choruses have a little bit of a hitch to the riff that is hard to get spot on. But there’s no reason to settle for anything less than the best I can do, since this is going to be a representation of what I can do. While I was recording I thought about how I can’t use recording sessions to mix or edit, that has to come later. What needs to be done is to use a critical ear to determine if the take is ‘good enough’, create doubles of every section so that I will have a backup in case I don’t hear an issue, and just keep on truckin’ through the takes.

whew

That was a tiring week of open mikes. I had to fight off being tired last night to make it out to Bernice & John’s, but it happened. I saw Don Melas too, he’s been hosting that for a long time now. It was good to see Steve too, he even played a little harp.
Five open mikes in five nights all around the city…but it was worth it. I even went back to the Shire on Tuesday, where I hosted my erstwhile open mike, but thankfully there was no drama, and this time, I remember how the night ended, unlike my last night hosting the open mike there. 😉
See you Sunday at Hops and Barley’s!

SubT

Wow, haven’t been to that place in a long, long time. I got there early (too early), ’cause in the olden days, if you weren’t there by 8 or 8:30 you played last basically. I think now that summertime is coming, open mikes are probably going to become sparser and sparser. Ciso is still hosting; it seems he has become pretty polished at hosting it (at least 5+ years will do that I’m sure) and seems to have switched to playing uke. The featured performer was quite good, good voice and lyrics. I’m lucky to have signed up 3rd because the guy that went on right before me had horrific microphone problems, and they remedied them before I went up. It’s still very clique-ish there I noticed. I could sit here and list other things I found annoying about it, but I won’t go into that. It was a good performance on my part and a good experience on the whole. The drink specials there kick ass too ($3 pints of whatever…and they have lots of awesome beers on tap…I had Sapporo).

Cheers!

bucktown

Last night was John Kimler’s open mike at Bucktown Pub. First off, John opened the evening up and someone was playing guitar in the audience while he was playing. I hate that. Every once in a while I will pull the guitar out and sort of play along when someone else is playing, but never audibly. Then he went to re-tune and his string popped. Usually not a big deal, but it’s a left-handed guitar. Well at any rate, I later got the rude guy to play with me on a song, hehe. He wasn’t half bad given the right situation. Good times.

check your bass bins

Started with the process of recording bass for a track–and it was a process. First, hooked up the DI. Then, played a little, realizing there were rattles all over the room. So the next hour or two were spent tracking down and damping as many vibrations as I could find. Then, recording started, but the process continued because i could still hear rattles in the recordings. Did a little further testing and I got most of them, I hope. The ones that are there are very minor and will add some character or ‘grit’ to the bass sound I hope. Didn’t get a whole lot usable recordings, but enough to hear what worked and what didn’t.
Also, there’s a show coming up June 14 (a Sunday). I’ll do another few nights of open mikes beforehand, and will again publish the schedule here, but it looks like candidates are Subterranean, bernice’s, innertown pub, hidden shamrock, and murphy’s. I’ll get ’em up ASAP.

back on track

We had another successful session last night. This track is turning out to be really tough, but Randy is doing a great job getting through it, and as happens just about every time we have gotten together, we’ve had a breakthrough of some sort. Last night we were working on “Find a Ride”, and trying to get a groove-y drum track underneath guitar parts that aren’t always that linear. But we had a breakthrough on the choruses and the end part of the song, and we may have recorded the verses completely.
In other news, there’s another show coming up in June. So like the last one, I will be attending a few open mikes as a run-up. Stay tuned here for the schedule.

paddy mac’s

Paddy Mac’s is a good time…haven’t been there in 3-4 months probably. It’s not really an open mike showcase as much as it’s a bar that happens to have an open mike on Tuesdays. Tommy is a good guy though, he used to come to my open mike at Tavern 33/The Shire. It was a good tuneup for the show tomorrow, because I got to play at least half a dozen songs. They also have a $0.35 wing specials and Miller Lites for $2. Not bad.
songs: “there are times”, “Remember the Time”, “Big Empty” (Stone Temple Pilots), “The Remedy” (Jason Mraz), “Find a Ride”, “You Found Me” (The Fray), “Kiss From a Rose” (Seal)

gin and tonic room

The Tonic Room is an interesting place to play, and every time I go, I have a memorable experience. First off, it seems a little clique-ish, in the sense that there isn’t a lot of street traffic that walks in…it’s just people who are there to play and the people there to see them play. Not that it’s bad…it is what it is. So it starts off and I make a joke to this guy at the bar about granny-panties; I was just joking, and he launched into a 10 minute long exposition on grannies. Then, there were a couple of performers doing ‘joke’ songs, like SMB Jones (sniff my butthole jones), all of whom’s songs were about butts. (example lyric: ‘if the butt stars are aligned’). Then a guy comes up and starts singing songs about asians (the host was Japanese). Awkward. The sound was good, and people were pretty friendly.
songs: “Deliverance”, “Low” (Cracker), “Lookin’ Out”, “You and Whose Army” (Radiohead)

sunday night at the gallery

The Gallery Cabaret has been around forever, and they have been having open mikes there seemingly just as long. Last night was one of two or three they hold every week. Here’s what I wrote last night (while a guy was constantly calling me ‘writer guy’): ‘Gallery is packed. There are two separate mikes and they serve food and I know that some people come here just for the free food. Old people, young people, hipsters, it’s pretty mixed. $5 pitchers is an awesome deal. There are a couple of guys who I talked to earlier who are playing now. They came for the earlier open mike but got bumped to the later one. Now they’re playing together.’
songs: “eyes”, “western song”, and “Two” (Ryan Adams).