"Practice is free," Aaron told us when we met him at the studio, referring to how we can do the work ahead of time and cut down on the amount of paid studio time we'll use for take after take if we'll practice the material before going in. The band can't practice as a whole this week, which is what ultimately cut out a day of recording for us this weekend, but I've been working at home to develop the parts I want to bring to the songs.
I did change the bass strings. I got a thick gauge of strings thinking that's what I'd picked before, but it turns out that I was playing on some very thin bass strings before. I sat last night and readjusted all the knobs on my amp to get a more high end punch to my bass than I used on the last record. I wanted to remove the pops and slurs last time, so I just turned up the bass and turned down the treble tone.
Listening to the Cardigans' first CD recently and a practiced performance with some older gentlemen has led me to re-think my way of playing bass, especially getting ready to go into the studio. I've been so happy with my basslines themselves since playing with the Distractions that I've patted myself on the back a little too much and not focused on how I'm playing them. As a result, I'm kind of a limp guitar player hitting low notes, not a bass player. So I simplified some of my bass lines last night, particularly on "Bring Out Your Dead," envisioning the basslines as pillars on the beat. I hope it will translate to the record. I also spent a lot of time working on my touch of the notes, practicing playing without slurs and hitting solid, precise notes. There were a number places, particularly in "The Great Stink," where I'd kept saying, "I'll fix that later." Well, later is now on the brink of recording these songs, and I went through and worked out the fills and runs as best I could in a one-night, one-man jam session.
With the last record, the song I developed the most vision for was "Elephants," coming up with several parts to overdub that made a significant change to the song. For this record, the song I've had in mind has been "Bring Out Your Dead." Shaking a tambourine requires a lot more precision than one might think, and I've played along with some live recordings trying to get my shimmy just right. I also envisioned a 12-string part for the song, and I practiced it while I'd let my aching and now muscular wrist get a break. I kept thinking that I could just tell Daniel what to do, and he could play it better than I could even with my practice. It may be humbling, but I may just pass that off to him in the studio tomorrow.
The final practice is tonight.
Then we set up at the studio.
Then we have a band slumber party.