I noticed a few posts over the last day wondering where I’d gone to – well, I do tend to binge and purge here… I wish I could just post something every night, but I’m sometimes tired or just not in the mood for it. The last few days I’ve just been very busy: William, my oldest son decided to record a demo for his school project and although I was not supposed to be involved (project rules – no parents), the kind friend with a home studio ran out of time, and although most of the recording was done, nothing was compiled or mixed, and a few parts remained to be recorded.
Unfortunately, from my point of view, the project was recoded using Digital Performer, which I used to record Antidepressant, but by the end of that project had vowed to never use it again. Never say never.. So I had to relearn the application and then get frustrated when I couldn’t remember how to do something simple, and then really frustrated when it started to crash on us. BUt the songs are now done and I’ll export them into Logic in the near future and let William fool around with them and hopefully learn Logic in the process.
So he has 2 songs – ‘Hateful’ and ‘Young and Uptight’. He assembled a great team of young musicians aged from thirteen to seventeen to play the songs and they did a great job. My job was to finish the project – compile vocal and guitar tracks, record a few more guitars, backing vocals, play organ on one song and then mix… you all know I can’t mix, but I tried…
We started on Tuesday, I went through his vocals and made comp tracks from the three takes and did the same for various guitar tracks.
The introduction to Hateful wasn’t working as well as I’d like, so I asked if I could edit it. I cut about 15 seconds off the front and moved things around a little bit and Will seems happy. The song was verging on too long anyway… then I added a synth organ idea which Will liked, but the sound wasn’t working so we put it aside and made rough mixes to be ready for the singer who was coming the next day to record harmony vocals.
Will is a big mySpace person and he’d become friends with a Connecticut power pop high school band called the Knockouts. Somehow he persuaded the singer – Lew – to drive two hours each way in rotten weather to sing on a school project demo. This kid was just great. This was the first ‘proper’ recoding – vocals – that I had done since I moved into our attic. I was worried about the noise from the road, so I hung a blanket and some velvet over the window and AC unit, it wasn’t perfect but the vocals sound fine and Lou is a Matthew Sweet in the making if he wants to be – great singer with a natural ear/brain for harmony parts. Pretty much the opposite of me. Will was thrilled and I was exhausted by the end of the day – I am no engineer, I don’t know how they manage to stay focussed on long recording sessions. It’s hard.
Thursday we recorded the outstanding instruments – two guitars and two keyboard parts on Hateful. Getting the initial sounds wasn’t so easy for Will as we had to use DI guitar pre- amps instead of combo amps so the sound comes through the stereo and you can hear your guitar acoustically – this takes some getting used to as the sound of the strings make the guitar sound brighter than the recorded audio file. Also Will did seem to think that I have a magic switch to make things sound good instantly.. he’s now starting to realise that there is a fair amount of dull legwork involved in studio recording. After a few hours of him playing not particularly well and me being ill tempered we actually ended up with a good track and I sent him away while I compiled it. When he returned he had worked out his solo part and recorded it in 5 minutes – two takes and it’s stunning. I immediately transformed from grumpy dad to proud parent… and I think Will may have surprised himself.
Will loves Fountains of Wayne and suggested I could come up with a FOW string synth part. I wasn’t optimistic but we got something that worked with the backing vocals and the rough mix was pretty good (Performer crashing aside). I had Will listen to the mp3 and make notes. I recalled the mix today and his ideas were sound – some moving panning on the synth and BVs in the bridge, tightening up the bass sound and a few small level adjustments. It’s done.
Young and UPtight was pretty much finished during the band sessions, but the intro was too long, so I edited out one time around the chord progression and moved a guitar to make the build a little better. Other than that and adding the harmony vocals, all the remained was to mix it. The bass was somewhat boomy and it took a while to figure out a way to make it ‘sit’ in the track – EQ alone wasn’t working, so I put it through a virtual preamp and this somehow worked… just luck on my part. Then the backing vocals needed to be EQ’d if they were to be as loud as Will wanted them and that was about it.
Master mixes assembled in Bias Peak and MP3s made using iTunes. I expect these mixes will be on Will’s mySpace page sometime soon. They are really pretty good, I’m happy to say (the songs, not the mixes), but I need a break from listening to them now.
Added 10 minutes later – The songs are already up at his page – link added.