11 AM start. MS comes by our place to help getting amps over – his vehicle is more sensible than my mid life model.
First thing – Why In The Word? The guitar recorded at Magic Shop is thin and weak and now that I’ve got my part sorted it makes sense to have MS’s electric perfectly in sync with it.
After trying MS’s Epiphone large hollow body Joe Pass model which he has strung jazz style with flat wound strings, my tele and my 335 we go with the Epiphone into the THD Bassman into the THD cabinet. No need for the Hot Box as the volume is at 1.5 for a clean warm sound. Tracking takes just a few run throughs with my guitar loud in his headphones to sync us up. It sounds lovely – very encouraging.
What isn’t encouraging is the Slaughterhouse Mackie recording set up is out to lunch. It is doing all sorts of crazy things – sending different clips on the same track to different outputs! MAM is tearing his hair out, and to make matters worse, his M-Audio Pro Tools interface is freaking out, too. Setting itself to the wrong sample rate… the vocal transferred from the previous session is unusable, digital distortion… The original is still OK but we can’t hear it!
I am, for an hour or so, really worried that we might have to go somewhere else. I know MAM is a great engineer, but this won’t work for a week. Way too much down time… Luckily, he figures out a workaround for the Mackie bug and he just has to check the status of the M-Audio box every time we change anything. Which is annoying, but wastes very little time.
On to the next song – Broken Record – We need to check to see if MS’s guitar is good and we need to figure out what’s up with the intro edit which sounds off on the rough mix, even though I thought it was fine at the Magic Shop.
Here’s the deal – the intro is in 4/4 but the song is in 3/4 or 6/8. I think I went over this before. We recorded the intro first and then tagged it on to the front of the take. Well, upon close inspection it really isn’t working. The timing at the segue is out. What to do? Here’s where MS almost earns himself a credit ala ‘produced by Fleetwood Mac with thanks to Lindsay Buckingham’ (Tusk). He is able to hear, based upon his intro guitar part, exactly what he thinks is the in time start for the track. He and MAM move things around, he’s right! Still we have to replace my intro part (which is a variation of what Matty plays on banjo in the small ensemble) and then have it continue into the intro, switching time signatures seemingly without warning. I’m in awe that he plays it. It will be fine! We then look at where this ‘banjo’ part will work in the song and the reintro before verse 2 and the solo both benefit from it. However, we can’t seem to get a consistent tone from part to part. If MS moves a little or plays a little too soft the tone gets too mellow and doesn’t cut through. Sadly we have to re cut and re cut until we get it consistent through the track. But we get it.
On to Inverse Midas Touch – MS needs to play mandolin on this as we only have a guide (albeit pretty great but just DI signal) from the live recording. We can’t get a tone, we try the combination PIzza Hut and Taco Bell (DI and mic – in joke from the Magic Shop – we were listening to Das Racist) but it is all treble and bass, no middle, same with various mic combinations. I finally go out and try to re position the mics and I hear the instrument. The strings have died on us. I guess we shouldn’t complain, they’ve been on since we bought it! So we have to abandon this song and I send MS home (in a car full of amps) with instructions to restring it and play it in before next Sunday.
Left to my own devices I look to figure out Double Happiness. Can we keep the live acoustic? There are more drums than guitar on the track and there are my ‘here comes the chorus’ shout outs, etc. Well, we are able to find guitar bits elsewhere in the song to patch up all of the shout outs and the vibe is so good that I don’t want to replace it, even if the count is absolutely audible during the guitar intro…
Next I want to accentuate my main guitar refrain, but double tracking is too chunky – bulbous even, so I try the Nashville again. It takes a while to find a part which works (the exact part double sounds too Baroque or something) but I do finally find a trimmed down version, and then at last a way that I can play it consistently. MAM then finds the good ones, erases the rotten ones and basically edits me until I sound not too bad…
Next (we did take a short pizza break for lunch, BTW) I address the banjo on Rhinestones (previously entitled K Street Blues). Man, it is hard. Trying to play the lead ‘picking’ parts from a standing start is all but impossible for a hack like me, so I tell MAM I just want to play thorough the whole song playing it and using the blind squirrel logic, I will eventually stumble upon a nut or two. After a few strolls through the woods and some extensive treasure hunting and editing by MAM we are, I believe, all set.
I adopt the same approach for the rhythm part, we don’t have time to audition and comp, but I’m pretty sure my last run through was 80% fine so we’re only looking for a few bits here and there… MAM is sure we have them, it’s almost 10 PM, so we go home.
No vocals today, but many loose ends tied up. MS is all done but for one mandolin track and I’m all done but for the banjo. Moving along.