Thursday, May 01, 2003

Oh. My. God.
When last I wrote, I was about to head down to Studio A to continue the song "Talk to Me" with the Southern Backtones. I was very interested in how this session would progress because our original tracking date was fraught with indecision. As you may have read, that session yielded some great tracks, they just came hard. Our session on Sunday night was the mirror image of our previous efforts in regards to the effort to output ratio (now positive). We worked fast--intuitively letting the song suggest each part, and we got KILLER material.

To wit:

We started the night with the main vocal, which was interesting in that we only had drums, bass, and two backwards guitars tracked. We wanted the vocal to be the centerpiece of the song, and with the direction we were headed, I wanted the other melodic and rhythmic elements to follow the vocal performance. This was a great idea, but we found that we needed to cut a piano part to serve as a melodic guide because there just wasn't enough 'song' yet for Hank to sing to. Mike jumped on the grand and I cut a super compressed, mono piano track which sounded great, (including the massive number of piano bench squeeks from Mike's nervous fidgeting). After that, we cut a killer vocal with only a couple of punches. The vocal was so compressed that we could hear Mike's stomach growl at the beginning of the track at about -10db!!!!

After the vocal, we did one of the coolest things I have ever heard. First, John Griffin and I had pretty much decided that we wanted to track an electric guitar part with the amp outside the studio. We set up his amp on the side of the building and I miked it from about 25 feet away so we would get some passing traffic noise in the track as a sort of random element. This was all good, but the neighborhood was unusually quiet, so I decided to 'high concept' the traffic idea. I got Jason McKee (SugarHill's Operations Manager), to engineer the track, while John played his part. During this time Hank stood right outside the studio door. At the right point in the song, Hank waved at me and I rode my BMW motorcycle past the building, making as much noise as possible. We came inside to listen, AND IT SOUNDED GREAT!!! This track was one of the most organic sounding 'one pass' tracks I have ever heard. We ended the night with Hank doing a very effected intro and lead guitar part. After a quick rough mix we called it a night. Everyone who has heard the track has reacted to the magic (in a positive way)!

Equally cool was my Tuesday in the SugarHill's Studio B. Jeff Skiba came in to do vocals on "Don't Leave Me Hanging On". Now Jeff told me that he felt stopped up which was no suprise--I have NEVER had a singer show up and tell me, "I feel great and I can breathe like a motherf***er, ....Let's record!", Naw folks, it just never works that way. Jeff sounded OK while he was talking so I just got him to drink some hot beverage and we started to cut the track. If anything, his being stuffy actually helped out. I got a warm resonate vocal from him using a Neumann KM86 mic through a John Hardy MP-1 mic pre. I compressed to taste, and really just sat back. Jeff delivered way above what I thought him capable of. He sang the song in a more 'singerly fashion' than in our pre production, and really gave a generous performance. I have worked further on his vocal edits, and we have a great track. I'll be mixing his songs next Thursday, and they are going to come out great I know.

Tuesday was a very busy day in that I spent the late afternoon rehearsing Mark Needs A Chick out at Mark Ellis' house. We worked on two very ambitious songs, "Carpe Diem" and "Used". "Used" is simply great songcraft and songwriting. The arrangement is dense, but everything has it's place, and Mark and I will be layering a lot of vocals and guitars. I can hear it in my head already. "Carpe" is not quite as easy a shot in that I still have some questions about the layering of elements and how they will fit, BUT, the song is totally up to MNAC latests standards and it, (the song, of course), will tell us what it needs as we go. I have to give props to their new bass player, Andrew. He is a great team player and his playing is top drawer. I think he has the control of his tone to be a very good bassist in the studio.

From this rehearsal, I went to the Woodlands, (a 30 mile trip), to rehearse the band Pale. (This is still Tuesday, remember!....I'm still tired!). Man, this band is really phenomenal. Turns out Steve, the bass player used to play in Secret Sunday when I recorded them in 1998. He was good then, but is very very good now. British Brian sings backups and plays keys and guitars on the songs we are cutting. Brian dresses like a 'Mod' and liked my old motorcycle. Did I mention what a great judge of motorcycles he is? Rob plays lead guitar and he has a great melodic sense along with a killer ear for tone and time. Calvin sings, writes the songs and plays great guitar himself. Finally, Travis plays drums. Travis is not a hard hitter, which suprised me. His tone and time are super-pro and I cannot wait to cut him. I'm going to draw up a budget to produce and record the two songs we rehearsed. I sure wish we were on a label budget for this one.

As I rode the bike 25 miles back home, I thought what a cool day it had been and how lucky and honored I am to be able to work on so much great music all in one day.

Tomorrow I get to work with Kevin Ryan at his home on a whole bunch of stuff. We are going to review his pictures and video from his week at Abbey Road. I can hardly wait.!!!

(the love)


Post a Comment

<< Home