Monday, September 22, 2008

Burning through my chest

It's good to be back to working in new haven, even if for just a couple of days. I'm heading to bulldog for dinner...there's just so much food here! have to hit the indian place across the corner before we leave. And the nice perk of being at firehouse is that there's a bar in the bottom floor. So last night I could randomly grab some gin while we mixed. What could be better?
we got some tracks sent in to us from stephen kellogg & the sixers last night, they're doing a guest spot on "Cherry Red Heart". Sounds huge, but Greg and I just spent 30 minutes obsessing over some amp noise from Kit's keyboard amp that was on the track. Not in the "we have to fix that" sort of way, but in the "let's sample that and fuck it up some more and use it!" all this over a 10 second part, if it was even that long.
Yesterday saw us working on our irish punk rocker. Bagpipes done, we added even more vocals to the gang of stuff I recorded with some friends of mine a week or two ago. More sound effects, which almost ended us up with a serious mess on our hands...but more of that on tape... But the real surprise was some stuff that greg had us do that makes the song very...martial...cant wait to share....

Saturday, September 20, 2008

does it get better than this?

Well, i'm sure it can, and i hope it does, but i digress...
we started mixing the new record tonight.  Now, I'm a huge fan of the band The National, one of the best bands IMHO to come out in the past 10 years.  So when we decided to work with Greg as our producer, who engineered their last two records, i was psyched.  They actually recorded some early stuff at Firehouse 12, where we started doing drums (little known fact: the national sorta got started in new haven, or at least laid some groundwork there with one of the brotherly sets, as i used to see one of their old bands).  but that was long ago and i wasn't really into their early stuff for a long time, so that was just coincidence and it being the nicest room in new haven.
anyway, the reason for my excitement now is that we started the mixing tonight at Tarquin Studios, right in Bridgeport, which is where Greg works and the last two National records were cut, which i adore.  ok, cool, get to see the places and rooms that i saw in their DVD, great.  Get to meet the studio owner, who was the producer.  very nifty.  But the really cool fucking thing?  Apparantly the band was in there yesterday, and they had just finished mixing a new song "You're so far around the bend" that will be on some comp or another, and greg played it for me!  i got to hear new music from the national before it gets released!  and it sounds really really good.  very upbeat tempo & feel, comparitively, but still richly textured. 
the rest of the comp, from what i was told, sounds like a bunch of heavy hitters, and it should be really good.  benefiting AIDS, i think.  anyway, probably the closest I'll ever get to that band, so it was really really cool to be a fan tonight.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Good night Cleveland. There will be no encore...

lWe're done. all the overdubs for the record have been finished, sans three things we'll do during mixing. It's 5am. Nat and I are exhausted.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


after writing that last post, i turned around and cut a couple of great takes that i'm really happy with.  more than i thought i could be.
go figure.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Not such a fine man tonight

I can't do this. "Fine Man" is getting the best of me, I swear. The last thing I have to record on this record is a vocal for fine man, probably the oldest song of ours that will be appearing on the record. It was the first thing that matt and pete and I worked on together, the first new TtW song of that lineup change. The first song we ever recorded together, up in my old apartment attic studio, as the weather got colder and december drew in, bringing that year's holiday record with it.

as we've been working on this record, this song seemed to stand out as needing something...more. We eventually narrowed it down to the vocal line. Something needed to change. We hit this song early on, figuring it would be easier for me to sing and we'd breeze through it (especially after the days of work on "came to you"). And that's where the diagnosis started.

The whole song, for me, is about trying to do your best and somehow just not measuring up. Trying to grasp that intangible balance of hard work to do what is necessary and fulfill your goals, and the appreciation that follows - both your own and from elsewhere. Now, I don't care who you are or what you do, when you've worked hard, it's nice to hear "good job" in whatever form. And what i'm working on here in my head has become wrapped up in something so intangibly lofty I don't even know what it is. For myself and for what I'm standing for, all I know is I want it to be good, and I'm just tied up hearing the errors. The future fixes. The "its not blowing me away"s. My guitar that isn't synced for technical and performance reasons.

"...when you're pressed for time/want it to be perfect..."

so I've been putting this song off and off. Occasionally coming back to it to see what I can come up with. Nat and I went through the first verse with a fine-toothed comb (as I had with greg) to try to set some precedents to be followed. But now i'm here, after two months, feeling like it all comes down to this, and having trouble feeling as though anything is working. I've been killing myself over this record, to the point where when I have a night off, I don't know how to go to bed before 2am. Really. It happened again sunday! And at the same time, I'm mad at myself because I feel like I'm playing the "poor me" card, and I hate it. Like it's more than just a source for self-degregating comic punchlines. I am very lucky to be able to do what I do, with some really really excellent individuals and musicians. But times like tonight I just can't see past this: the other guys in the band seem to like this song I wrote, and say they do, and have pulled out a great performance on it. I just want to be able to bring it to their level and not let them down with sub-par work. And there is no time left to procrastinate and imagine that it will be better...

"I'm just getting so tired/of running myself down/.../I've been waiting for this moment/to show my life's in gear/Now I feel it failing me/After 28 years"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Last mile

I'm so glad we pushed mixing back a month. I don't know how we would have been able to do it. At first i was like "that wasn't the plan" and "how can we afford it". well, we can afford it because greg's off working with bands like Swell Season and some German pop outfit, and we're doing the engineering for a bit.

Tim Warren from the Alternate Routes and fellow Fairfield University alumni came over last night to play some harmonica for us, and it totally changes the song ("Tomorrow"), in all the best ways. If you heard us open a set with that song, well, just wait and see. Nat came over afterwards and we tag teamed until about 4am. And we still have tons of little things to do still. So even with the extra month, we're still scrambling to finish on time. All told, it will be two months of working almost every day on this record, and hopefully it shows.

Friday, September 5, 2008

the very special houligans

had some friends come over last night to record the backing vocals for song for megan and some handclaps.  why is it the best moments happen when there's no camera rolling?  i stupidly forgot the camera upstairs, and missed out on getting all the good laughs.  oh well, at least i was there! 
it is currently 83 degrees and breezy.  gorgeous weather hearalding the pending hurricane.  the nice weather is making me depressed.  go figure.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Underground summer

Tonight is one of those nights I just want to blow it all away and start over. However, I can think of a few people who would be rather upset with me...

Trying very hard to remember a lesson i'd learned years ago: don't hold expectations of people. You can wish for things but be aware that wishes and reality are two different things, and your best off just taking things as they come, and being satisfied in your own fullfillment, not in another's reaction. They'll do their thing regardless of your wishes, and, rather than be frustrated, just live and let live.