Sunday, March 29, 2009

Twelve Minutes, 48 Seconds

Let's start with the bad: Nothing.

Let's talk about the not-so-good: Nothing.

Let's talk about the awesome: It was tiring to work for fourteen hours yesterday.

Let's talk about the really awesome: 12 minutes and 48 seconds recorded of the history record.

Josh and Kelly spent the night at my house to expedite getting started in the morning. We had breakfast at IHOP before we hit the studio bright and early at 10am. We started the session by playing through three songs from Whimsical in Reverse to grease us up. It was more worthwhile than the whole night's practice before, which had concerned me since we sounded so rough the day before entering into the studio. I received copies of the three songs we did, and I hope to use them somewhere sometime.

Daniel (who will hence be referred to that way as opposed to our guitar player, who will be Tha D or one of the many Catsnatcher variations he's been dubbed over the years...) and Aaron have exxentially joined the band to record us, and their input is so very valuable. They know recording and had lots of great suggestions for individual parts for all of us throughout the session.

I think the easiest way to break down the rest of the day would be to go song by song.

Know It All At four minutes, this song will hopefully be the longest on the record. We spent the last part of the day recording Daniel Cat's Dick Dale leads on the song which, in conjunction with the Les Paul rhythm track he put on it, made this song sound so much bigger than we'd have guessed before. I told Tha D that the leads on that song express the voice of Daniel Cat more than anything I've heard him do as long as we've been in the Distractions. "Eli Whitney" expresses the voice of tha D pretty well, but not so much his unique personality, like those lines. I told him that the breaks between the choruses and verses are like he's a bull, and the gate flies open for him to run wild for 8 1/2 seconds until the next verse started. To play that part, just like the "Eli Whitney" solo, Danyacat used his Fuzz Factory pedal. We laughed as Daniel came out of the control room because he thought something was mechanically breaking on the amp when it was coming through. He checked, and it wasn't, and we said, "It's just the pedal."

Whiskey Rebellion We completed all of this track except the solo, which Barnyard Cat will complete when they go back {hopefully} next week. We threw around some last minute changes, but all of them would have taken away from the momentum we already had with the song. The main change was the hilarious suggestion by Daniel and Aaron to emphasize the fact that it's a question when Kelly sings about the people involved in the insurrection. We now laugh whenever we hear it because of the way he asks, "Father Stilson???" before skipping right back into the rest of the chorus.

Bring Out Your Dead I had to sit alone while everyone went to play outside because I had a rocky time getting the bass right on this one. I knew it would be that way, but the end result sounds better than anything I could have planned. We definitely pulled off the 60s sound we wanted for this one, I think. It's pretty glorious. I had my 12-string overdubs ready and practiced, but after a lengthy set-up time to play them, it was pretty unanimous that they didn't have a great effect on the song. As a result, there's one chord of my guitar on that song. We were losing steam, but I wanted to finish, so I quickly did a tambourine the backing "ooh"s at the tail end of the night, with an extremely tired Danyacat joining me on the backing vocals to round it all out.

The Great Stink This was the last song we played when we were tracking the whole band, and after so many rocky takes of all the other songs, I expected this one to be very long and grueling, that we would finish the track of this one and probably have to pack up after that. Then we did it one take. We recorded a second one, but it really wasn't as good as the first. I had to punch in on the all three pre-choruses of the song, except on the most difficult walk-up that leads into the chorus, which I nailed in that first take. Kelly had to re-do his guitar on this one after that, and Danezbueno chose to wait until next session to record his lead. The song sounds empty without it, but it is much more of a beautiful pop song than I had ever guessed when we first started playing it. All the chorus guitar really made it shine. The live version has a grit to it from the way I play it and the drums and slight fuzz that Kelly and Dan Yuck At use live, but all that was gone in the studio to make it an even greater contrast to the lyrics about trash up to the sky and cesspools and things. Kelly did one take of the vocals for this one, the only one he didn't complete, but he had to go and was too exhausted to do anymore.

As Daniel was putting together the rough cuts for me to take with me at the end of the night (by that time, we were the only ones left), I asked if they had changed the settings for each song. He said they didn't, which really amazed me since we succeeded so well at making each song so different from the rest. Most of this is in the guitars, but we really did create a diverse set of sounds for just under 13 minutes of recorded music. It also felt so strange at the end of a long day to listen to the song and think about how we had recorded it out of thin air just that morning. Aaron had said we could have stopped at lunch and had a truly good day of recording, but instead we pushed on and got a whole lot more done after that.
This has inspired me to push ahead and work on new songs, and I'm all the more excited about the results of future days of recording.
And I also shot about 40 minutes for the making of documentary.

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