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.

No sleep till Brooklyn

This week is a big one, folks.

Adam, my wife Kara, and I are flying to New York City this week to live in a studio for three days. Meeting us there will be Patrick (Abram Stone, banjo), Dan (Town Mayor, banjo), Peebs (harmonica), and a mystery mandolinist! Seriously…we’ve been through about 4 or 5 mandolinists, and there’s no telling who may or may not show up this week…

Anyhow, we’re all super excited, and we’ll be sharing pictures and video from the studio sessions once we return!

In fact, I might just tweet the entire time.  Twitter really isn’t my cup of tea, but perhaps this will be an appropriate time for it! Check out our account, https://twitter.com/bloodandbanjos, and I’ll do my best to keep you all updated.

This post will not be well written

Mainly because I’m super excited and short of time, my apologies!

This was my view the other night:

jake_skypeYou will notice two things.

1.) Our drummer, Jake, is looking super handsome.

2.) I have new studio monitors.

Both of these things make me pretty happy, but the best part of all is that Jake is going to the studio NEXT WEEK (which is why we were Skyping.)  Holy hot damn.  That’s coming up right quick.

Did I mention that I’m married now?  Check this out.

DSC_0371c

july 6, 2013

NICE.  The wedding was fantastic, by the way.  I am one happy dude!

Ok, back to work!  Need to finish up a few things before Jake records the final drum takes for the album…

A man, a plan, a blackgrass album.

Hidy ho.

Things are moving, albeit slow as ever.  I thought planning a kickstarter was intense, but it doesn’t compare to a wedding!  Especially when you live in California and will be getting married in Michigan…

Anyhow, Adam and I got together to do some serious planning and re-evaluation.  I can’t stress how valuable Adam has been for the project. He understands the mechanics of laying tracks down, and really helped with prioritizing the recording process.  It was a productive evening, even if we were buzzed off of this stuff:

beer

black metal beer? i’m in.

So then, the good news?  We have a great plan forward, and we know it’s going to work.

The bad news?  It puts the release at least 2 months behind schedule.  Have a look for yourself.

new_schedule

Adam and I decided that we will be mixing this thing ourselves. However, we do plan to pull in some seasoned professionals for some key guidance here and there.

We’re going to have a great album in the end.  You can be sure of that.

3 Days Remain

I usually post early in the day, so I thought I’d throw you all off by posting right now. WHOA.

So then, we’ve been making great strides with the Kickstarter, and the support has been inspiring, to say the least.  Thank you everyone!

That said, we’re still not at 100%.  Please help us out any way you can!  Sharing the link with friends is a good way to go, but pledging $1000 helps quite a bit too. Here, http://kck.st/13nLhm5

Keep in mind that I won’t be printing t-shirts again (I’m not really in the merchandise business) so this is your last chance to grab one of these bad boys!

tshirts

Same goes for posters, so get on it!  This Sunday (appropriately, Easter Sunday) is the last day of the campaign, don’t be late.

I think this will be my last post until after the Kickstarter ends, so next time you hear from me I’ll either be ecstatic or deeply, deeply depressed.  I’m counting on you all!