Friday, June 13, 2008

Day One: 6/10/08

Late this morning, Ben and I met at Andy Gullahorn's studio, The Night Owl's Nest, to work on final song arrangements, tweak/clarify lyrics, and officially begin recording this album. From the moment I asked Ben to produce it, we've never been quite sure where we'd wind up working since Ben does not have a work space to call his own yet. So, it worked out well that Andy & Jill (Phillips) were out of town for the week, and allowed us to use their studio while they're away. Neither Ben nor I are much in the way of late night owlery, since we both have little ones at home who like to wake up bright and early in the morning, but I do happen to like birds, so perhaps that gives me some small modicum of credence in recording at such an ornithologically-named studio. Neither here nor there...

Ben set up a couple of condenser mics behind the makeshift baffling (jingle #1) while I checked email and mentioned to him that I was thinking of "going viral and blogging it out". He and Nick seemed to think that a few folks might find this album journaling process interesting. I wanted Ben to hear a new song I'd been working on, so I sat on the futon and played him what I had of Sad to Watch You Wave on the 12-string guitar. He responded favorably, so we worked on the arrangement (basically, how to get from point A to point B, from beginning to end), he provided some great imagery to help clarify the first verse, and away we went to record the main acoustic guitar part. I sang a scratch vocal (a very rough, non-keeper vocal, just so the other musicians can have a roadmap of the song) and then we broke for lunch since we had started late. We were set on a generic Mexican meal when we happened upon my new favorite Thai place in town, Thai Kitchen. Here, we wound up downing Pad Thai noodles, an excellent spring roll, flat soft drinks, and lots of intermittent spices. A good start to the meals-eaten-while-recording experience. Next up was to record a keeper 12-string acoustic guitar for I Will Go With You, a song I wrote for my son, Ellis. I sang a scratch vocal for it and that was the end of day one. A healthy start. 

I've noticed that it's been a little difficult honing on the actual keys for some of these tunes. Some feel too low for my voice in the verses, while getting pretty high, and challenging, by the time the chorus kicks in. It will be interesting to see how my non-25 year-old voice handles it once we begin recording vocals. More on that later.

Note: If you're a recording-phile (audiophile?), you're probably already wondering why we seem to be working backwards tracking acoustic guitars first, not drums and bass as is customary. Brent Milligan did this when he produced Scarce and Land of the Living, and I absolutely love the way it worked, placing the absolute essence of the song - me & the guitar - before any of the supportive production values. He built the production around the basic elements of the tune itself. I thought it worked well. This way, the song hopefully stands on its own when I get out and play these songs live in a solo setting. Or maybe not.

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