| Sunday May 29, 2005
Got up relatively early and headed over to my Grandmother's. For a change, it looked good. Apparently, my Uncle Roger finally was able to make it back over to do some yard work and it really makes all the difference. Now it looked like it did when my Dad was there. It made it feel even more like home.
After spending some time catching up with Grandma, my grandmother's sister's daughter (what kind of an aunt is that officially? I'm not really sure.) Phyllis and her man Flash came over. She's one of the few people in the family that I still feel connected to. She and her Mom and Dad were always good to me. They always took the time and treated me like a person with an opinion even when I was very young. Most of the others acted more like I was a nuisance. I think it says something about what has become of the others and what has become of us. Hmmmm....so...who was right? Anyway - I was glad to see her there and I was even more glad she came down from NC to spend a little time with my grandmother / her Aunt. What could be better than that?
Well, she actually managed to get Grandma out of the house and up to the lake for the day! The aforementioned uncle has a lake house and the whole crew of them converged up there for a traditional Memorial Day get together. It was almost like old times. Of course, there were a few glaring absences. Among them, me and Amanda. We were home to go to a certain birthday party and that's just what we did. Still, it was good to spend a little time with Phyllis and the mostly silent Flash and I'm happy that my Grandmother spent her Memorial Day weekend occupied and busy with her son, neice, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
At Nichole and Robbie's party, it was about as I expected. Mom and Vern in the kitchen, Dwayne out in the garage, McKayla cuting (yes, as in "cute") up the place and Nichole and Robbie totally consumed with friends. Benji came by for a good chunk of time, which is always good for a distraction. And I managed to get the pictures I took of Benji and April's wedding to April. All in all, there was nothing special to the outside eye. But to me, it was. It's my family and it's rare that most of us can get together anymore. The only (living) person missing was my Grandmother. That's cool, though, 'cause she had her own little suarez!
In the evening, Amanda and I took place in a grand scheme concocted by my sister Missy, Benji and his friend Ben. It involved Amanda in a "glowing" bathrobe, Revolutionary War battlefields, 200-plus year old graves, historic sights, The Grudge, Friday The 13th Pts. 1 - 47, and a bunch of 10 - 15 year old kids. I wound up cut up from an invisible fence, sliced around the eye by branches and accosted in the projects. Benji, Ben and Amanda weren't quite as ground covering in their adventure.
And we would've gotten away with it, too...if not for that meddling kid.
I don't want to say her name 'cause I don't like to bad mouth people without the sense to defend themselves but there was one 14-year old punk that was trouble. I don't like her. I don't trust her. I want her away from my family. Nothing but ill can spring from her. When I want to deck a 14-year old girl in the face, you know she's bad.
"Plays Rough." What a pathetic little punk! Your time is coming, sooner than later. You'd just better not take out any of ours while yours is being taken.
Why do some people with no hope or future make it their life's goal to drag down others with potential? Yeah, I know why, too. It doesn't make it any less maddening.
| Saturday May 28, 2005
In the morning, Amanda decided to repaint the lone pink wall in our bedroom blue. Apparently, she has a distinct artistic vision of what our room will become and it no longer includes the pink wall. I always liked it. Oh well, I console myself with the fact that it's still there. The pink wall's just hiding under blue paint now. Now the room has more of an aquarium feel. For the record, our giant catfish Albert Finney (he's 4 feet long or so) prefers it this way.
When she finished with that we got on the road to South Carolina to try to join in with my family for the birthday celebrations for my niece Nichole and my nephew Robbie tomorrow. I know they won't really care about the effort we're making as they'll be hanging out with their friends but maybe one day they'll look back and remember us being there. I know from experience that what you look back on is often more important than what you see at the time.
We got into Lugoff and hit up ye ole LHOP for dinner (nectar of the Gods, I tell you). After that, we drove out to the cemetary to make my "when I'm in town once a day" visit.
Then it was on to Amanda's parents for a relatively relaxing (most of an) evening. Amanda got some of her parents' and grandparents' home movies put onto DVD. It's much better quality than those old reels. And with the easy listening music the transfer company added to it, it's extra heart-warming...
Amanda's father's response to nearly every face to appear on the screen?
"Dead. Dead. All dead. Dead."
At least he's his usual life-affirming self.
| Friday May 27, 2005
A couple of members of The Quincy Jonestown Choir join us onstage at DT's for "Taking Its Toll".
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NICHOLE!
Yeah, so water ya guano dew?
I'm again writing from some indeterminate time in the future, my schedule and frame of mind a burned out blur. I'm starting to get back to Earth. This update is my evidence.
This was one of them there ketchup days. I also compiled several variations of the sequencing of the new album on my home system to get a running start before going in with Jeff Capurso next week to knock this album out.
And oh, yeah...
Thursday May 26, 2005
Ah, the final day in DARC.
We went in and reconfigured last night's madness into something usable. First, we flew the choir and claps back to the song's original session. Then we chopped it up, stretched it, chopped, stretched, twisted, flipped and flopped it a bit.
I took handclaps and audience response from one section and flew it to the other. I had thought this part would be difficult but it was a breeze.
The first time I heard "Taking Its Toll" back through the monitors with a hundred voices singing along, I was thrilled to say the least. Add in handclaps from each and it just got better. I actually took the hand claps from the end of the solo and added them throughout that whole section. Then I removed them from the pre-solo bits so that we'd have room to build.
After that, we took some more crowd and flew it into the "Until The Road Ends" mix for ambience during the drum intro. We kept Sarah and Eric's claps and just added in more from last night.
I think we've come close to using 60 tracks on "Taking Its Toll"...and it's a 32-track studio. Hmmm....
Can you say "overkill"?
(ghosts appear and fade away)
I was actually satisfied and happy as Tom and I walked out of DARC together after the final mixing. We've accomplished something. Now, we just have to get other people to realize that we have!
Either way - the deed is done.
Now it's down to our MASTERS.
| Wednesday May 25, 2005
2 members of the Quincy Jonestown Choir "lay down" their guest tracks for the final recording session of C'mon, Accept Your Joy!
The day today was one of tidying up our studio tracks. We went through and made slight adjustments. Then we did what we're calling "pre-mastered" versions of "Into My View" / "Sometimes I'm Sam" which will be the first "single". This mix of "Sam" will be an alternate from the one that will be released on the record! The single will be made available early in June and will be submitted to local radio to (hopefully) build some anticipation for our September release date.
After that was positively the most fun I've ever had in a recording session. Ten or so of our closest friends (including Ty and Jon from Bearfoot Hookers) joined us to become our "drunken choir" for "Taking Its Toll". I've always seen the "lay down" section of the song as a big sing a long. I haven't had the means to do that on the demos but I wasn't gonna have a potentially definitive studio version without it. The "drunken choir" thing turned out to be a little more fitting than I had thought it would.
In the hour and a half of tracking hand claps and "lay down"s, a couple of gallons of sangria disappeared. A bit of beer went missing, too. I believe I'm the only person who didn't drink anything. Some of 'em were feeling no pain by the end of the session. But man, it was a blast. I can't even really describe all that happened in that little bit of time but it didn't feel like work.
Tom was directing everyone a la Quincy Jones during the "We Are The World" sessions, so Quincy was on our mind. Later, someone got the idea that to sing "lay down" we should do a couple of tracks with "the choir" laying down around the mic. One of our guys remarked that this looked (between the "punch" and the bodies laying around the floor) like Jonestown. It was natural that I would then take it upon myself to dub this group the Quincy Jonestown Choir. Jon (from Bearfoot Hookers) was so in hysterics that he was beating the floor trying to hold it in. Every now and again someone (who shall remain blonde) would sing "You lay down, you lay down, you lay down in Jonestown." It's all in the track.
Luckily, Mary Katherine and Julia actually sang well. So they made it sound a lot better than it would've without them. The rest of us were just goofing off. Between takes (which numbered ten or more for both vocals and handclaps), Asa left the mic running which caused us to get some pretty odd mumblings and snippets of conversation involving Origami, exchange students, indie rock, exes, Frank Zappa, B.B. King, hit and runs, Jon claps, puppies, church and "asswipes." Most, if not all, of these exchanges are buried in the final mix. Good luck trying to pick 'em out!
Thanks Amanda, Julia, Mary Katherine, Rich, Ty, Jon, Frank, Tom, Asa (and me) for coming together and putting on the over-the-topping icing to the album. Without you, the record would'nt be what it will!
| Tuesday May 24, 2005
We worked incredibly hard today.
We finished up "Taking Its Toll" by replacing a plastic woodblock experiment with a real rimshot. Now it sounds like a mix!
"I'll Be Fine" is the final mix of the lot. And, of course, it turned out to be the hardest (apart from maybe "Towel Cape Song"). It's tough because this is a relatively stripped down mix. Ironically, that seems to be the problem. We just couldn't get it to open up. We worked for hours and hours. Frustration quickly set in for me...so close and yet so far away. After Tom came in, I decided to take a head cleansing dinner break. When I went out to ye ole Saturn, it was gone.
I had to go into a zen kind of mood to keep from freaking out. Especially with the studio frustrations. I calmly went back in and called around 'til I found it. The University Of Georgia towed my car to an impound lot. Sure, I wasn't in a space per se but I still feel as if I was wronged. First off, we have an Athens Tech hangtag and there's supposed to be a deal between the two campuses. Second off, there was no reason to believe I couldn't park there. Other cars parked there everyday and there was no "No Parking" sign anywhere around this little area. Every area around it had signs. Not here. This was a free zone...or so I thought.
An even more displeased than I Amanda had to come pick me up in the truck (thanks again, Dad) and go save our automobile. When we got there, the guy said that it's not even University property. Aaaaaaagggggghhhhhh! So what right do you have to tow my car? I didn't go there. I simply paid my (gasp!) $115 fine and told them I would contest it later. Needless to say, this dinner break wasn't as relaxing as it should've been.
If you know me, you could probably predict what happened next.
I really wanted to call it a night. I'd had enough. But I just couldn't do that. I grabbed a salad from McDonald's for my quick dinner and headed right back to DARC. Tom had already given up for the night as he figured I couldn't get back. He had some "homework" to do anyway.
Asa was kind of shocked when I returned. But he and I hunkered down. Within the next fifteen minutes I had a fairly radical surgery idea for the mix that involved gating, de-gating, eq and room / overhead mics. 5 seconds after that, the mix was there. I was very happy. I turned a miserable night into a triumphant one.
Now I could sleep.
The major mixing is done. Now all that's left is the previously mentioned dumping of "Taking Its Toll" and "Until The Road Ends" to a 2-track comp session so we can add much, much more.
Monday May 23, 2005
So close, so close...
Went back in to DARC to commence work on the final mixes. Today we started out on touchups of the previous week. It didn't take long. Then we began on "Until The Road Ends." This was perhaps the easisest mix of the sessions. Of course it's the least dense and complex so what would you expect?
Next we jumped on "Taking Its Toll" which is the monster mix. And it's not done here. After we finish the 8-guitar, 32 track master mix, we have to dump it down to 2-track stereo so that we can add a "choir" and hand claps. Then we'll have to fly that master back into the original master mix to have complete control!
As we neared knocking "Taking Its Toll" into completion, I couldn't help but notice Asa getting really into it. Knowing that he does this day in and day out makes me feel an even bigger sense of accomplishment.
Listening to these mixes is starting to freak me out a bit. Especially as I can see the end of the tunnel up ahead. I'm incredibly proud of the work we've done here. Sure, there are things that I wish were even better but the truth of the matter is that I don't think we could've done ANYTHING better with these people and the equipment we've had. We got amazing sounds out of all concerned. I'm proud to have been a part of it.