The end of Recording week came in quick and slow all at once. When you’ve been eating, sleeping, & recording in the same room for a week straight you float your track of the time. After the drum recordings (which went pretty darn perfectly), we captured all of the acoustic guitar sounds. Nashville Strung J-50, Southern Jumbo, ’47 Gibson, we had quite a few to choose from, and it was a real joy going through and picking specific guitars that lent themselves well to specific parts/lines in the songs.
The electric guitars were an exciting and somewhat overwhelming effort. In the end I decided on 8 guitars and 8 amplifiers to choose from. Each guitar is capable of sounds unique to that instrument, and each amplifier holds it’s own sonic capabilities as well. So when you go looking for specific sounds more often than not you spend more time looking for the right tone than you do performing the actual part. Then you break that combo down, pick a new gtr/amp pair for the next part, and repeat as many times as the song dictates. We set up an area for all this to happen, dubbed it “Electric Lady Land” and spent the better part of two days immersed in getting the sounds down. We got sounds from a Vintage German Solid State Amplifier (with a reverb like nervous aliens) to a boutique Reverend Amp (amazing) to a Marshall Vintage Modern through a half stack of speakers (the sound of America in Revelry, and also capable of an amazing warm clean jazz tone). On the guitar end, my favs were a Custom Les Paul for anything powerful, a ’69 Fender Jaguar for anything warm, & a ’68 Stratocaster for things that needed punch. Of course, the Paramore Firebirds made more than their fair share of sounds on this albums as well, taking on the lead lines in the all of the material & some rhythm roles as well.
Then it was time to perform the bass. I don’t get to do it very often, and enjoy it so much when I do. Bass, to me at least, is the instrument that is the mediator between the straight rhythm of the drums, and the melody as it is played by the guitars/synth/keys etc. As mainly a guitar player, it is stretching (in a good way) to have to lock in to the kick drum and play off of it for accents, all the while carving the melody down to the bare bones in order to link the melody with that rhythm. I think we have some strong bass lines coming up, and I can’t help but credit J.R. Rosales (toured all last Summer with me on the bass) with pioneering some serious influence on how this is to be done inside my song forms.
The songs as they stand right now are fragmented. When you go for a “studio” style recording with ambience, stacking and everything else that goes with it, it comes out a lot different than if it were a group all in the room at once playing live through a song. For instance in a chorus, for added “beef” or effect, you might need 3 or 4 guitar/amp combos playing the same line in order to achieve the sound you are looking for. So listening back is kind of like rifling through a grocery checklist and making sure that you have all the ingredients in the cupboard for your soup. Right now we have all the rough ingredients (raw tracks), and Cole is paring them down to workable materials ready to be mixed together. Here’s what he has to say about where we are at.
Hello friends, checking in post-Alaska to let you all know that I've been sifting through a massive amount of audio (bass, guitar, drums, acoustics) and everything is sounding great. Before we move on to vocals/percussion/etc I have to organize and tweak everything to be ready to mix, so this is the boring part of mixing which looks a lot like the pic attached. I've been staring at those waveforms for a few hours now but it's all part of the process. Even though things are starting to shape up now, it's the next couple of months that will really start to reveal what everything will sound like at completion. I have it in my head, but sometimes songs start to take you in a different way than you expected, so I'll be discovering these songs as you do. -CP
Saturday night Mar. 28th we got to premiere the material at The Taproot in Anchorage. It was an exciting night and a lot of fun to share with people I have known for some time. Not to mention being a refreshing change of pace musically from the stop/start nature of the week. Bright and early Sunday morning, I dropped Cole off at the Airport and headed East down the Glenn Highway on the backside of the ridge, and towards the Yukon. The road is a mixture of ice pack, gravel, and if you’re lucky bare “chip and tar” road surface that has eaten through two truck tires with one leg through the Alcan and neighboring wilderness roads left to go. It was a 17 hr. driving day through Tok, Destruction Bay, Haines Junction, and a lot of other aptly named spots that ended with me sleeping in my truck at the Alaskan Border. The world as it is near the Wrangell St. Elias Mountains and into the Yukon is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite places to see. The valleys are equaled in vastness only by the scale of the mountains hedging them in, making it literally one of the biggest things I’ve ever seen. Over the next few weeks, I am going to catalogue the travel involved in the drive from NY to AK, so keep an eye out for that. Thanks again for all the love everybody, you make this worthwhile. -HB