First day for Matt Cullen.
We meet outside my house at 9.40, Schwaber, Cullen and I to try to squeeze all of the guitar gear into two cars (Mark had kindly taken home amps and electrics last week but he isn’t working today). It looks like a tight squeeze but as soon as we jettison the stroller we’re fine.
In the studio we set up the 3 main electric amp set ups – Matt’s Ampeg Gemini (pretty beat up and rattly but sweet), my Matchless 15 watt and my THD Bassman, plus the Matcless 1*12 and the THD 2*12 cabinets.
On hand we have Matty’s SG, his Fender Lead III, my tele, my 335 and my Les Paul.
Song # 1 – Westchester. Seems like an easy start.
I should know better by now. We listen to the various combinations and choose the SG Matty’s amp as we like the spring reverb and the basic unpolished vibe. We know full well that this song is mid side Blonde on Blonde at best. Not a song we want to overthink. Not that this knowledge will stop us…
Matty’s solo idea, I love but I wonder is it too busy? Does it leave space for the pedal steel? And so I make some suggestions which throw him and a while later I suggest he play what he has worked out and we go from there.
That was me that wasted 45 minutes. But there were issues – timing and articulation which are not exposed until playing with the actual track (which moves, tempo wise – Fred is great but he sways back and forth…). Anyway close attention to issues and repeated passes gives us a stellar track but it’s lunch time already…
We order grinders, as they call them here, subs to the rest of the USA and sandwiches to us Europeans…
We know Why In The World? Isn’t going to be easy – ideally we would have tracked Matty’s part first but there was the small issue… so he must now overdub the rhythm part which should have been laid down first… We chose the Matchless, with a hint of tremolo into the THD, M playing SG again.
Again it takes a while and some compilation of takes to get he track the way we want it but we do. And we stumble upon several happy accidents one of which briefly turns M’s guitar pattern around – ska style!
This sound (played with fingers) wont work for the chorus, or so I think and encourage M to figure out the part with a pick. 1/2 hour later I’m wrong and it’s back to fingerpicking but how do we get the tone to work? How do you ever? You twiddle the knobs until it sounds right. It turns out that we were using a lot of compression pre-amp on the verse sound – take that away and open the treble up and we’re fine.
The lead part is a tougher nut – With the small ensemble Matty stops playing his incessant part when he plays the lead line. Here we want cake and to eat it, but we need a sound which can co-exist with 2 electrics already and my acoustic… we choose my Tele into the THD > THD combination. And we know it needs reverb to set it apart. All good. Only the last run around needs rearranging, and this adds another 1/2 hour. I spend a good while humming and singing how I think it might work, and I’m wrong the first couple of tries, but eventually we settle upon a slimline version of the riff for the second time around and we’re done. Next –
Inverse Midas Touch – we know what we want Matty to pay on this song, well, sort of. We know riffs, basic parts, etc. But the inbetween spots, not to mention the intro and coda are up for grabs.
We’re not sure what amp to go with but I favour Matty’s Ampeg and we do a run thorough to fine tune the sound. Too bad! The run through is so good that I announce THAT IS THE SOUND. M’s playing was so good, and I knew there were some phrases he’d never play again so we went with what MAM described as a Lanois kind of sound.
Matty played 5 or so fantastic takes and then I had him play a particular part which he’s just come up with in a few other verses, as I considered it a hook, and then MAM sent MC home and we comped the 3 1/2 minutes of lead guitar to one take. The result is A – awesome, and B – MAS and I are exhausted. It’s 7 .15 and we really need to track a vocal today to stay on schedule.
I choose Westchester. We run it 5 or 6 times. MAM thinks he has it. He makes a comp that I don’t hate (but need to listen to in the AM) and we go home.
Same time, same place, tomorrow.