I’m writing you from my place. It’s Saturday morning, I got all of seven hours of sleep, it’s 70 degrees, it feels like fall, I’m stealing my brother’s entire REM catalog, and all’s right with the world. So right, in fact, that I look confused, bemused, paranoid, and suspicious. Suspicious of YOU, reader.
In truth, I have no idea what to do with free time. Is it free time if you have a mountain of stuff to do, but don’t technically have to do it right now? Probably not.
So, here’s how Steve and I are spending our Day Off:
–I’m catching up on an Everest of emails.
–I’m sorting through the move.
–I’m rehearsing for the studio and upcoming Going Away Concert.
–I’m blogging about doing these things (meta!)
–I’m working on album art for forthcoming album.
–I’m maybe–just maybe–doing some fantasy football draft preparation. The League just licked their collective chops.
—Collective Chops = album title.
–Steve is working a double shift at two of his seemingly nineteen jobs. I’m not kidding, I count three full time jobs for Steve. Plus he volunteers at soup kitchens and goes to Darfur on weekends.
1) The mystery instrument has been revealed: it’s a cigar box guitar. A friend of Steve’s makes guitars out of cigar boxes. I didn’t know these things existed, but evidently they do. Tiny pockets of the population are even enthusiasts. Like Bills fans, or People Who Drink Tomato Juice.
2) Editing is fun. After we finished vocals yesterday, we started editing some parts, playing a little cleanup, etc. Usually this is a tedious process, and one I don’t look forward to, but it flew right by. Or maybe I just love hearing the same note three thousand times in a row.
For the record, the note was a G#, and it was beautiful.
3) Our album title tally is getting nice and long. I need your help. Hit up the comments and give me your vote, or give me a new name to throw into the mix.
Steve’s Miracle Pole
Polaris Man: A Journey through Time and Water
Funky Strut Tambourine
Operation Hot Throat
Rusky Business (pronounced “Rooskee,” as in “Russian”)
4) Tomorrow we might finish this thing. When I say “finish,” I mean “finish tracking,” which means, “finish recording all the parts.” Maybe. There’s still a lot to do. With all the biggies out of the way (vocals, rhythm section, guitars), the rest is “seasoning,” as Steve calls it. This is usually a lot of fun, but can also take time if you’re still experimenting with sounds. We will see, but it’s possible we could have everything recorded by tomorrow evening.
5) Then we mix the record. Then we master the record. Depending on the way you’ve recorded, mixing can take a few days or a few decades (see: Axl Rose). Steve and I left a lot of room for experimentation, trying out different stuff in the mix, seeing what we like, etc. So, mixing will take slightly longer than it typically would.
It’s a very cool process, though. It’s amazing how much keeping or deleting one instrument can completely change the tone of a song. Also, there’s a great art to mixing each individual level (how loud each instrument compared to the others) over the course of a record.
There’s a great anecdote about the early days at Stax. When they were bought by Atlantic, executives from New York would come down to Memphis and listen to the records as they were being made. They always wanted the vocals higher in the mix, and the Stax producers kept pushing them down in the mix. After a few months of push and pull over the vocal levels, Stax owner/producer told them, “You want New York vocals, and these are Memphis vocals. Memphis vocals for a Memphis record.”
Of course, the “Memphis vocals” worked out just fine. But still, I can sympathize with the execs from NYC. Who wouldn’t want to hear more Otis?