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Sunday May 22, 2005

 

 


I had an inexplicable hankerin' for some Eagles this morning so I made some compilation discs that I enjoyed while talking to my Grandmother. In the afternoon, the band was supposed to rehearse but certain people let it slip their mind and then schedules couldn't be re-synced. So instead Amanda and I watched the Live Aid DVD (thanks Tom) while putting together our new 5+ feet tall 1500 CD holder. Yes, we need two of 'em now.

I'm proud to say that I didn't do much else. Even a brief rest is better than none!


DIARY

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Saturday May 21, 2005

Amanda and Diana DeGarmo behind the football stadium at Peachtree Ridge High School outside of Atlanta.

 


Though I was tired today, Amanda and I headed out for the Rockin' At The Ridge Festival in Atlanta. Acoustic-popper Sam Thacker, modern rockers Luna Halo, American Idol Diana DeGarmo, classic rocker Rik Emmett and singer-songwriter Shawn Mullins were on this (perhaps too) eclectic bill. I wanted to go and support this event promoted by my friend Mike Cohen even if I really would've preferred to laze around the house.

Thacker was good. He was very professional. My problem with him is that we've already got a John Mayer. The layout of his show all the way down to the solo acoustic part just felt like a carbon copy (minus Mayer's chops). I think it's inevitable he'll be signed if he keeps at it. After all, he's very talented. He's just not original in any way, shape or form.

The same can be said about Luna Halo...nothing original. Personally, I found them much more entertaining than Sam. If LIT had been a little darker, slightly more goth and lost their sense of humor, they'd have been Luna Halo. And they did a convincing rock and roll cover of A-Ha's "Take On Me" that I'll happily give 'em bonus points for.

The biggest surprise to me was Diana DeGarmo. It's no secret that I like her personally. The time I've spent with her in the past has always been very pleasant. She's just a very sweet person. It's also no secret that I have no use for her music whatsoever. It's just too calculated and glossy. The reason she was a surprise today is because she put on a super entertaining set. Despite a lame, dramatic irony dripping, opening cover of "Old Time Rock & Roll", Diana was on. Her set was totally captivating and fun even when it was at its cheesiest. It was the show of a consumate professional.

I was also surprised to see Chee Ammen of Dharmaland Productions there. He was probably the very first person to ever hire me as a photographer. He gave me several chances before anyone else did. I'll always appreciate and remember that. Of course, I wish I was a decent photographer at the time but doing those jobs is one of the reasons that I am pretty good today. He was there with Diana. He put together her band and was overseeing her production for the first few shows of her tour (this was the debut date). He seemed to be functioning as full-on tour manager today, too. It's always interesting to me how the same faces keep returning. Always different. Always the same.

Rik Emmett followed Diana. Unfortunately, the former front man for Triumph can't keep an American Idol's crowd so things dwindled down significantly. To Rik's credit, he still pulled out all the stops and played and sounded great. I thought the set meandered at times (a 10-minute lite jazz jam comes to mind) but the guy's still a phenomenal musician. I'm glad to say I've seen him now.

Shawn Mullins headlined to a fairly slim crowd. He sounded better than I've ever heard him, though. I liked him much better with this band than solo. It was harder and edgier with the full group. I was too tired to stick around long. After a few songs, Amanda and I headed on home for a brief reprieve before the final round of mixing for C'mon, Accept Your Joy rears its head next week.

I was glad to have spent a little time with Scott, Coley and Mike. I also met Tony and had a great conversation with him. I hope our paths cross again soon.


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Friday May 20, 2005
 

We accepted The Bearfoot Hookers invitation to storm the Caledonia tonight!

 

 


Ah, the search for the perfect string...

I had a rather easy morning patching up loose ends and answering email. I decided to go pick up some strings for tonight's show but when I got to the music store, they didn't have my brand. I've become enough of a music geek to know that I sound much better with a very particular brand (I prefer Fender nickel wound .10's). They sound round and full with no metallic overtones to damage the fluidity. I couldn't settle for anything else. They called around..."there's ONE set left on the other side of town". So I hopped in that ol' straight drive truck and bought 'em out (they actually had 3 sets). By the time I got back home, the string search had cost me several valuable hours. I have a string stretching ritual as well...I didn't have time to do it all before preparations for tonight's show began.

I guess if that's the least of my problems, I still shouldn't really complain, eh?

Click here for the full report on tonight's show!


DIARY

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Thursday May 19, 2005

 


 


I spent the day catching up with stuff. I had to send out my show invitations for tomorrow and catch up a lot of this diary. That's the day right there. My photo stuff is so far behind it's not even funny anymore. I can't help it, though. The band has to come first now.

In the evening, we got together to rehearse before tomorrow night's show. Instead of doing that, we wound up working almost exclusively on new stuff. We came up with a new intro for "Worms On The Pavement" and that was the closest we came to doing whate we were there to do. We're getting more confident as a band so instead we spent our only rehearsal time working out new old favorites. First up was "Stay Away". It worked pretty well. Especially since I've decided to do it without a tremolo. Tom's singing it. I just don't want to. While it was always an audience favorite in the Q-Sign days, it was never a personal favorite and I just don't think I can do it justice to be completely honest. I think Tom's voice will be better for it. Plus, it's good for Tom to get another showcase. He also does the lead on "Twist" on the rare occasions that we do it.

If you haven't figured it out, I've come to peace with a lot of my past and other bands. I'm now thrilled that I'm in a group that can and is willing to pull out the best stuff from all of the projects I've ever been involved in. To that end, we're pulling a lot of the favorites out of the old dusty closet. We're polishing them up and seeing which ones we can make our own. Tonight, we also cleaned up "Pepper" and started working on "Someone's Trying To Tell Us Something." On a whim, I dropped the second solo from that one and put in the solo from "Whole Lotta Love" in its place. I don't know why but it worked, sounded really cool and made it all a lot more fun.

About 10 minutes before the end of practice, we started jamming on "Darling Nikki" (y'know by Prince & The Revolution). We had it almost arranged within those final ten minutes. I'm handing this one over to Tom to sing (and screech) as well.

Our shows will be getting even more eclectic and fun very soon...

 


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Wednesday May 18, 2005

 

 

 

Alright, scratch what I said about the "Colors" vocals. We tried everything we could to make them more straightforward in order to offset the craziness of the guitars. It didn't work. So we made the vocals crazy, too. When in Rome...

I think the mix kind of freaked Tom out the first time he heard it. It's relatively out there. But the second time you hear it, it makes much more sense and the third time it sounds familiar and just what it is - which is the only way this one CAN sound.

One cool thing about it is that nothing is backing up anything on this mix. EVERYTHING is way too loud...equally. I don't know that I've ever pulled that off before. It's actually a cool thing.

So with that being done, we laid into "Until The Road Ends." No problems here. It was easy. The only real "trick" was the doubling of the snare rolls. I created a double of the snare, then distorted it and buried it underneath on another track to create more of a gunshot sound. Otherwise, we left everything else pretty dry. This is (relatively speaking) the raw song on the album...well, except for that ending...but I'm not allowed to talk about that right now.

So this week in the studio is done.

I finally couldn't resist anymore. I've kept the recordings from Amanda up to this point. I really wanted to see what she thought of the overall sound so I chose the craziest mix, "Colors In Black & White". When the song was over, she took the headphones off, looked at me and said "I'm so happy, I can hardly count." I couldn't have asked for a better reference or response. Fingers crossed...


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Tuesday May 17, 2005

 

 

 


We spent the day today mixing "Down". It was another relatively easy one. I was actually surprised that it all laid in so easy. It was all about eq's here. The levels were even pretty good to tape. Tom came in in the late afternoon and did some adjustments on the drums and that was done. Easy enough...

"Colors In Black & White" was next. This was easy, too. It was sounding really cool and stereo. I managed to create a really cool stereo effect by using two mono guitars. One's panned hard left and the others hard right. What I did was use a wah on each but I do the tonal sweep at different intervals. They occasionally cross. It's almost dizzying. We'll have to make the vocals more static so that you don't fall sideways when listening. After we finished the music for "Colors" we called it a night so we could put the vocals in while we're fresh tomorrow.


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Monday May 16, 2005

 

 


 

Back in the studio today. Things are really moving now. First up was "Phony". By the time I'd gotten there, Tom had already done some work on his tracks. I was determined to make this sound huge. It has to to capture the live sound of it. It is, a year into the game, the centerpiece of our show. It's our "Dazed And Confused", if you will. It also has to be massive so that the smallness of the intro to "Down" (which falls next in the running order) will only be made more intense. Asa and I worked on it for a couple of hours and it was done. It's one of the fastest mixes we've done. I guess there were maybe 3 hours total. We went for a whole different drum sound for this section of the album. We've manually gated them for everything up to this one to go for a more crisp, clean pop sound. This one needs more of a flat out rock sound so we auto-gated 'em. Tom also put a little reverb on the toms. I don't really agree with that as I feel it muddies 'em up but Tom felt strongly about it so I deferred to his opinion here as this one features the drums ALMOST as much as the guitar solo. It does give it a slightly more ominous Ezrin sound (a la KISS' "God Of Thunder" or Alice Cooper's "Go To Hell"). I'd rather the drums be more like Zeppelin's "The Rover" on it, though. Oh well...this mix could already kick holes in what most modern rockers call rock. Oh - and although it's inaudible, there are actually two bass tracks on it that run throughout. Frank's in one channel and I'm in the other.

This mix is what's really gotten me excited about the album. It's the first one that I think we've taken to the next level. I don't think this one sounds like a couple of Athens boys producing something in a little local studio. This one's right on the edge of the big time. It's just a matter of stepping over now.

Of course, now we have to touch up the previous four to match up!

So off we went. We rerecorded fuller bass tracks for "I Know Too Much" and "Sometimes I'm Sam", then did slight remixes of both of them as well as "Towel Cape" and "Into My View". Now they all stand up. Watch out!

Click here for last week with a whole lotta Darlings and A Flock Of Seagulls...


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