We have a 10 AM start but I”m running a little late – I text Mark where the back up drive is so he can load Women’s Studies and I arrive as he is finishing.
The shipment from LA is still not here, it’s scheduled for delivery today. My telecaster, just re-stringed is buzzing on the high E string and my Les Paul had been re-strung (most likely by friends of my son) with strings I don’t use. I’ve emailed Trevor the luthier to see if he can help.
I’ve brought in my 2 Matchless Amps – the Hurricane, and the DC30, and a Matchless 1*12″ cabinet and a THD 2*12″ cabinet. As we’re setting these up and experimenting with microphones my wife texts – the boxes (the mic and my guitar pedals) are here from LA and Trevor emails I can bring the guitars in. So I do that.
It’s early afternoon by the time that we decide that we like the (new to me) Royer 121 into the Neve mic pre best and we can’t find a close mic alternative we like so we put the U67 about 10 feet from the cabinet and it adds something we like… it blurs the picture and moves the image back slightly – see how we always have to use metaphors when we talk about sound…
We start work on Period Piece and it isn’t easy. My ‘part’ is just a bunch of ideas I’ve had since I wrote the tune on acoustic guitar. This is electric. Or at least I want it to be. By the time I’ve figured out a repeatable version of my part, I’m frustrated and worn out by my awful technique… I can work out a part, but it’s often much faster if there is someone else around to play it… I get the part recorded as well as I can and we break for a late lunch at 4PM. AS I’m leaving Trevor texts to tell me the Les Paul and Tele will be ready to pick up at 4.30 – ideal. Riff’s burger joint is in Trevor’s building (just down the street from us).
5PM. I don’t like it. The part is wrong. I try to simplify it. The sound is good – Gibson 335 to Way Huge Saffron Squeeze to MXR 10 band EQ to Matchless Hurrican to THD cabinet … I semi strum it and I lose the ‘Friends Again’ arpeggio. Strangely once I let this go I play better – the mid section 6 time arpeggio i no longer stressful. I did write it, after all, it shouldn’t be that difficult..
If this is to work it needs to work against a second guitar in open Eb tuning. I have the Rosewood Tele set up for this. We use the Kemper profiling amp AC30 preset (The same as I used on Opposites Day, etc, in LA). It gives an instant Born To Run Tele sound and I can work with that.
1 hour later I have a part, almost. I record a few and we listen. It needs to be simpler and more consistent. We work more, we record more. I get a little better. Eventually we have something I think will work. It’s less folk/rock and more kraut/powerpop but I’m fine with that. It needs to be seen to work with other elements before it is regarded as any kind of success, so I’m tired and skeptical, still, but somewhat optimistic. I don’t hate my left hand quite so much.
I thought about taking a break from guitars and singing this, but there is one lyric I don’t like and haven’t got a better idea yet…
On to Myrtle and Rose. This is simple. The amp sound from the last track – the 335 into the Hurricane is perfect. If we want it be wet later, we will deal. Now we record dry. I can play a little better after lunch, it seems. The song is long and to a click and after the first recording I’m pretty sure we have all we need, but I tell Mark to record another so we can comp. I said I’d play to the mid section but I’m playing well (I think) so I keep playing to the end. Mark makes a comp from the two takes. We move a few bits back a little (I tend to rush) and we have a track recorded..
Onto the solo/lead part idea I have. This is interesting and as I haven’t made demos, this is how it will be. This is a part I thought MIGHT work when I was working in the song – I made an iPhone Voice Memo, which became a Song Idea in iTunes… now is Zero Hour, I guess – will it work?
I start with the Les Paul into the Kemper Fender Deluxe model but the LP has too much sustain for the part. I choose the guitar I think will have the least sustain – the 330 – and continue. Clean sounds are too dark. We go back to the AC30 Top Boost sound – reduce the gain and voila…
The solo/lead arpeggio part almost merges with the main part – now I know it’s working… I then overdub and octave down and simplified (same octave) part (to, hopefully bring out the main melody of the arpeggio).
When it’s all done it’s 9PM. If all the days go this slowly it will be 2014 before we have a record, but I think I’m remembering how to play electric guitar, now…
More guitar and hopefully a vocal tomorrow.