It Is Done

Dear Followers,

Our journey is complete! The full album is now streaming online, and available free for download.  Please check it out at http://music.bloodandbanjos.com.

If you like what you hear, spread the word so others can experience the joy that only bluegrass & metal together can bring!

Thank you for the support over the years, your interest in this project has a been a huge inspiration for us all.  We sincerely hope you enjoy the results of this musical experiment!

CD Art, Our Single, New Website, and 2 Week Countdown!

Howdy everyone!  Boy, there’s so much to talk about…

First of all, I’m extremely happy to announce that the official digital album release date will be November 18, 2014. Yes, that is only two weeks away!

Look for it on bandcamp, iTunes, CD Baby and more. I’m looking to make it as cheap as possible (I know on bandcamp I can make it free, so go there first!)

CD Artwork

Ven Locklear has designed the label that will be on all of your physical CDs.  It’s incredibly awesome, and I think it captures the essence of the project pretty damn well.

The words around the edge are taken directly from the Heike’s Tomb in Cheboygan, MI. How great is that?

Updated Website

In the meantime, you should also check out our brand new website designed by our Art Director, Lindsey Pollock! www.bloodandbanjos.com 

Official Single Release

Now, we were all so excited about the album being done that we wanted to share a song with everyone ahead of time.  So without further ado, we present “Anti-Annunciation,” the second track of the album. It is this song where Abram is first told the bad news (visit here for lyrics.)

You may also see us share this on Facebook later today, so please give it a share if you’re enjoying it! We’re not looking to make money on sales, obviously, but we want to share our work with as many people as possible :)

Cover Art

Dear followers,

I must apologize for our silence of late, but as always, it is merely an indication of the work that we have been doing to get this album done!

Everything is in Adam’s hands right now, as we are going through the final mixes of the tracks.  I really believe we’ll be able to release this thing in November, or December if something unexpected happens.

Anyhow, I wanted to update you all with our album cover art that was done by Eric Priestley.  It’s just awesome, and working with Eric is always a treat.  Enjoy the artwork, and stay tuned as things become more finalized!

a quiet night in Appalachia

a quiet night in Appalachia

Going Strong

Hey all, I know I’ve been very quiet on this blog, but I want to assure everyone that things are moving steadily along!  I did start a new job this year, so that has been pretty hectic, but Adam and I have still found time every week to work on material.

We’ve finished 99% of the recording, and have moved onto mixing. It’s a long process, and we’re being extremely thorough to make sure everything is done well.  We only get one final product, and it’s going to represent the very best of our ability.

Sometime in the next month or two we’ll be releasing a single from the album. It will most likely be track 4, which I’ve renamed “Draw Down the Moonshine.” (Look up drawing down the moon for the reference!)

So far it’s sounding pretty awesome, can’t wait to share it with you!

Brooklyn, Day 3

We started day 3 a bit earlier than the first two, with intentions of leaving the evening free for celebrating.  We couldn’t get ahead of ourselves though, there was much work to do, and only 10 hours left of studio time.

Luckily for us, our mandolinist showed up on time, and was ready to record.  We had never met the mandolinist, so that was a bit nerve-wracking.  I had mentally prepared myself to let this guy go if he wasn’t going to cut it.  Fortunately, Adam was great!  He got into the recording booth, and didn’t leave until all his parts were done.  It’s intense and exhausting when the pressure is on like that, and you’re alone in the booth trying to perform.  We were all impressed that he stuck it out for that long.

The best part was that Adam improvised some new mandolin parts that I hadn’t foreseen.  Especially for the metal parts of the music.  I’m not sure if we’ll be using them in the final cut, but having options is always ideal.  Adam is definitely an experienced musician, and I can’t express enough just how great it is to work with such talented folks.  I’ve said it before, but I’m truly the least talented musician on this project.  I’ve been so lucky to have such awesome collaborators!

talent!

talent!

Patrick was then able to jump in and pound out a good portion of clean vocals for the remainder of the day.  I got into the booth with him, and coached him through the songs.  For two hours straight we tweaked lyrics, discussed rhythms, and fine-tuned how Abram should be singing his story.  I absolutely loved working with my old bandmate in the studio, and was really impressed with his performance.  Being in there encouraging, criticizing, and polling the guys in the studio was probably my favorite part of the sessions.

coaching in the booth

coaching in the booth

Towards the end, my wife Kara, Patrick’s wife Meggie, their daughter Violet, our friends Joe and Sam, my sister Mo and brother-in-law Mike were all in the studio. Productivity had nearly come to a halt, but we were ready to call it a day.  The last couple of hours would be used to comp tracks, export, and transfer files over to our computers.  While Bella and Adam worked that out, the rest of us had a good time visiting and playing with Violet.

family!

picture taken by Mo!

All in all, I think we sufficiently accomplished what we came for.  We didn’t finish all the parts, but I had already booked a contingency day for January, months earlier.  The idea was to give us a few weeks to listen to our recordings, and determine if anything needed to be redone.  One more day should be plenty to finish it all off.  I hope!

Brooklyn, Day 2

The second day started out much the same as the last, though Patrick was with us from the beginning, albeit still sick… No matter, we had plenty of banjo parts to tackle, and Dan still had to record his vocals as the Town Mayor.  Despite our productive first day, there was no room for relaxing.

Bella, our expert engineer, got us started smooth as ever.  Having Adam, who is our producer, in the studio was also a huge asset. This project could easily become a logistical nightmare for someone who isn’t experienced with tracking/mixing (like me) but Adam always knew what we needed in terms of technical specifications, file types, and processing.  He also helped us keep on a steady course, and as always, had substantial creative input on the music.

Adam and Bella at the console

Adam and Bella at the console

Later in the day, Joe (our marketing director and good friend) joined us in the studio to hang out and help.  He also brought his video camera to get some footage of the session. Unfortunately I think he missed Dan behind the microphone making everyone in the studio cry with laughter. I think we might have some sound clips to share though.

Dan on the 5-string

Dan on the 5-string

Before the day was done, we were able to knock out about 90% of the banjo parts, and completely finished the harmonica. It was nice to be able to check those items off the list! We still had a ton of Abram Stone vocals left to do though, and we hadn’t even started to record mandolin.  Day 3 was going to be a critical one.

Brooklyn, Day 1

Oh, how I’ve missed the studio.  It’s truly a great experience that I wish you could all partake in.  The creativity, pressure, performance, and goofy antics that are unique to studio sessions make the long hours in a confined space well worth it. Well, that and obscene amounts of beer and whiskey.  I’ll try my best to communicate the three day, 30-hour weekend below.

Patrick and Dan, brothers and banjo players, have both lived in NYC for over 5 years. Fortunately for us, this time has allowed them to build several relationships with musicians in and around the city. As of a couple weeks ago, our banjo, mandolin, harmonica, and cello players all reside within travel distance of Galaxy Smith Studios in Brooklyn.  It was a perfect storm.

brothers

brothers in the studio

Although our Kickstarter budget wouldn’t support a trip east, I decided that this session was something I just couldn’t miss. Adam, my wife Kara, and I all personally purchased flights to NYC to brave the wintry cold and partake in the festivities.

The fun began at 2:00pm Thursday, as Adam and I arrived at the studio with a couple six packs.  Dan and Dave (harmonica) we’re already there and warming up with our studio engineer, Bella Blasko.  Dan was up to record first, and his performance experience certainly showed.  I admit to having a bit of stage fright, especially when the pressure is on, but Dan is a great musician and pounded out tracks with no problems. To ease the stress, he alternated tracks with Dave until Patrick arrived at about 6pm.

Working with Dan and Dave was great, though.  As director, I did give high level suggestions for general feel, style, and obviously, when they should come in.  But that’s about where my input stopped. They each had written their own parts, had new suggestions, and even added parts that I had never before considered. It was awesome to have contributions from such talented musicians! Especially ones who understand musical theory, something I lack completely…

David laying down the harmonica

David laying down the harmonica

Unfortunately, Patrick arrived with a cold and couldn’t really sing… not a good situation for our lead vocalist. However, we discovered that with a shot of whiskey, Patrick’s scream was dead on.  We threw him in front of the mic, made sure he didn’t see the bottom of his glass, and we got some great results.  Patrick could also play his banjo parts, so the day wasn’t much of a loss.

One thing that was tricky for me was figuring out how to give feedback for each musician, as they all had different preferences.  There was the sensitive type: “oh, that take was only just fine?”  Or the no bull guy: “don’t patronize me, just tell me what I need to do.” And then there are times when something sounds off, but you have no idea how to verbalize it… At the end of the day though, I think we had minimal drama (except for one misdirected harmonica solo) and all felt great about our progress.