Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Quick De-Brief of the Last Session

There was essentially one objective with Friday: band tracks. Everything else can be added later, but not having to coordinate between bass and drums and extensive set-up for later will make it much easier for Daniel and Kelly to go in and do their parts. To that end, we succeeded wonderfully in putting down tracks fror 6 songs.

"Eli Whitney" There had been much contention about whether we should go through with an acoustic version of this song instead of an electric one, and we decided to do acoustic in the end. The drums were the same, and I was wondering how it would really sound when we put it all together. Daniel made one of his best performances of the song with the Martin he bought from my Dad, finger picking out this needles and pins for each note. Kelly used the classical guitar my Dad made to come in behind it with a blunt broad stroke that filled out the sound. I can't wait to hear it once we add other instruments. The roughs are being sent out to other people to bring some more to it.

"Bob Dole" It really was neat to hear this song finally committed to tape. There's only one acoustic guitar, and Josh and I put out a particularly tight rhythm track on that one. I have to use a much lighter touch on the bass in the studio to make it come out right, especially on that one where the airy arrangement does the least to hide my slurs and extraneous bumps. Overdubbing this one was fun as Kelly added some little sound effects and we all crowded around a microphone to record some laughter.

"Election: 1800" and "Commodity" It still blows my mind that two songs we've never played live have already been cut in the studio and are 90% finished. It feels good to have them worked up with that accuracy before playing them. "Commodity" was our best performance of it so far, even though I think future live performances will eventually make that one pale in comparison. With it and "Bob Dole," it is really neat to hear my own song that I wrote and demoed reach that kind of development and treatment.

"Let's Go to War" didn't come as easily as Kelly was saying. There is some question of the guitar tone on that one. Since our primary goal was the bass and drums, Daniel played it as a live track and the difficulty was bypassed, but it will take some head scratching in future studio sessions to figure out how to get more volume and less gain and not lose the feel of the song. Less distortion also means more work for Daniel to hit the intricacies of that lick with more precision as the the FabTone pedal he uses often covers up the way he walks up to the C and dances on the 16th notes with a stutter in there before walking down, leaving him some breathing room to make a mistake live without anyone noticing. A cleaner sound will make it sound more like an engine propeller, which is cool, but it may take a few extra takes.

"Gold Rush" The session was winding down in the evening, and we decided to do still go ahead and do Gold Rush instead of polishing off what we had already done. We began joking around which helped to psyche us out for it, culminating in us determining that the only way we could perform this redneck anthem was shirtless. So we did it. We ripped through the song in a few takes, but there were some hiccups in there, some that we fixed and some that we didn't, that could have been avoided if we had played on that one longer before recording it. Still, the cut of it sounds good, and I can't wait to hear the D's shredding tracks over it. What I really want is a double solo.

We spent so much time on band tracking that the rough cuts are not quite as listenable as the last batch--Kelly didn't put in polished vocal tracks, and knowing that some of the main guitar tracks will have to be done over gives us a feeling like we have much longer to work. But we can now listen to 10 tracks of the history record and continue to look at the big picture of the album and think about other aspects with that much at our disposal.

I also can't wait to go back, even if it is for little pick-me-up sessions along the way in the coming weeks.

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