we write this at the tail end of 12.5 straight days of tracking
exhaustion is rearing its ugly head and the thought of our nice warm and familiar beds at home have never felt so far away
everyone here has been amazing - we have been staying with Eric E's cousin Amy for the last few days since the robbery and it has been a great boost for us to come home to made "beds" and plenty of food in the fridge
Devin has been a serious trooper this whole time, working over 12 days straight without a break and putting up with all of our shenanigans (robots, coloring books, crosswords, etc.) - we cannot thank him, and the rest of the studio staff, enough for their hard work and hospitality
seems to be the same story as always though...
band wants to make record
band plans to track all of their parts quickly and accurately - "shouldn't take more than 7 days" they say
twelve days into it, they're just now finishing tracking
if you multiply that by how long this would have taken, had we decided to go it on our own at home like the last record, then it is unlikely that we would even be releasing this until 2009!
seriously though, it is exciting to know that we are going home tomorrow, but all of us are completely overjoyed at how things sound and are very glad that we were able to pay so much attention to each these songs - we all came up here wondering if certain songs would fit and if we would have a cohesive record and by about day 3 things already sounded so full coming out of the speakers that the songs began to sound and feel like an album all on their own
mixing will now happen the week of November 12th, with Chad and us communicating by phone and FTP server and mastering will be completed on November 21st with us receiving the final product as we are eating our Turkey Day leftovers on the 23rd
please wish us luck on the drive home - somehow Stephen and Ryan made it to STL in 13 hours earlier in the week, but it is highly doubtful that this group of four will set the same land speed record
there are some very exciting things on the horizon and we will continue to update the blog as to the progress of the record
some things that might have slowed us down a bit...
getting the perfect angle
new Office episodes online
the toy bin in the control room
impromptu drum-offs including neither of our two drummers
12 songs + 7 members
Friday, October 19, 2007
we write this at the tail end of 12.5 straight days of tracking
Thursday, October 18, 2007
yesterday, was a little on the slow side
we showed up at the studio a little early, being that we had to bail out of the condo much earlier than expected in order to not be charged for another day, and all four of us basically found a spot on the couch/floor to crash for a little bit - the cops didn't leave until after 3am and it was very hard to get to sleep after that
in light of the previous night's incident, we still got some things done - trumpet mostly done and a decent chunk of vocals
we, as a group, decided that we would finish tracking the record today (day 11) and then head home on Friday
mixing has now been moved until mid-November and it has also been decided that we will have TJ Lipple from Aloha master the record the week after mixing
despite being behind schedule, the new plan of attack fits well into our supposed deadlines and we all feel very good about the rapport and process that we have established here
so here is how it breaks down...
Devin O'Campo - Producer/Engineer
honestly, Devin was the perfect person to work with, he is patient, professional and has a spectacular ear; he is in-tune with our direction and intent and every single change that he has suggested has been for the better!
Chad Clark - Mixing Engineer
hearing Chad's contribution to this project is something that we are very excited about, besides being a very awesome human being, he is a fantastic engineer and there are many things from his body of work that we know and love!
TJ Lipple - Mastering Engineer
we all heard TJ mastering the new Headlights' record through the walls of the lounge! this decision, we feel, was a no-brainer and completely makes sense with regards to the process that we have created for this album! it is a definite plus to also have been able to have kept all three parts in the family at Silver Sonya
most importantly, each person in the chain represents a set of fresh ears and ideas, which in the end will make the most difference to the record - this time around, we were very fortunate to be able to abscond to the east coast, forsaking any and all responsibilities and obligations that we would have had at home, to make a record where instead of worrying about why the headphone amp wasn't working or where the mics need to be moved, we got to think about the instruments and parts that we were playing and how to make them the best parts that they could be
this has been an awesome experience and we are anxious to see it through
on that note, we have decided on a name for the album
John Vogl, who will be doing the album artwork, has decided to make a visual depiction of the title
we are not quite ready to share the name with everyone just yet but we are hoping that after reading/seeing this you will SHARE with us what you THINK that the title is... (John apologizes for the scribbly handwriting, see below for the transcript)
G: Good czll putting "A" in that empty grzve...
H: Fuckin' right
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
in recent years there has been an epidemic of bands getting their trailers and vans broken into while they are on tour and we definitely spent our first night in the condo nervously trying to sleep while our equipment truck sat outside on the street
little did we know that just over a week later, as we pulled up to the very same condo at approx. 1:30am, three dudes wearing hoodies and ski-masks would rush the van holding guns, demanding our money
in a matter of moments they got away with Mike and Eric E's wallets, all four of our cell phones, our GPS unit, 2 iPods, Eric H.'s bag of books/etc., Stephen's two very nice cameras, and the $1.38 in change from Mike's pocket
Steve was smart enough to empty his pockets onto his front seat while they rushed the van, although as he tossed his wallet it went through the van and fell out the other side - due to the nervousness of the KIDS who were robbing us, none of them seemed to notice this and we were lucky to be able to keep the wallet in the end
talked about f-ed up
we hurriedly went into the house and fumbled with the Vonage phone to get a hold of the cops
as an aside: as the hoodlums ran down the street, a cop car drove past on the cross street which we later found out was actually driving around looking for these same three guys who had robbed somebody else a few blocks over
within 10 minutes of the incident 3 cop cars, a detective in an unmarked car and the crime scene investigator were on the scene
while the CSI dude took pictures of the remnants of Stephen's camera bag which they had discarded along the sidewalk, all four cops decided to take our information down individually and redundantly, all the while firing off questions like; "why couldn't you just record in St. Louis?" and "what kind of music do you play?"
we definitely were reaping the benefits of the graveyard shift
a very sleepless night later, we have decided to abandon the condo, in which we stuck out like a sore thumb anyway being the big group of kids with the Mom Van who kept really weird hours, and are currently at the studio trying to keep on keepin on and work out where we are going to stay while we get things finished
Steve was able to get a new phone this morning, although it did take us three T-Mobile locations in order to find one that would honor his contractual discount, which was an incredibly trying experience without our trusted Tom Tom GPS - he is also now the designated Sugar Daddy for the rest of the trip since Eric and Mike had to cancel almost 10 cards between them and he is the only one who's wallet survived the robbery
too bad we didn't spray paint "GAH" over all of our shit, then it'd be easier to spot it on Craigslist
Gettin' Robbed Secret Tip! #1
if you EVER get your phone stolen, call the phone company up and FIRST ask to purchase the $6 insurance
one you have done this, then call back and report your phone stolen - you will then get a phone for free
if you DON'T, the person on the other end of the line will tell you how you now have to purchase a replacement at LIST price - not FREE or even at the DISCOUNTED rate that you pay when you sign a new contract
Mike is learning this one the very hard way!...
Gettin' Robbed Secret Tip! #2
it might be a good idea to spread your credit cards out amongst your luggage when traveling - getting stuck without an ID or any form of currency, plastic or otherwise, really blows
all of this being said - we are extremely lucky to have made it through this alive, unhurt, and with only a minor amount of things taken from us - it really puts things into perspective as far as the importance of material possessions goes and we are glad that at least it was only the four of us who had to go through this and not the whole band
we will DEFINITELY be keeping this blog up, although you will not being seeing anymore of the fancy pictures that we have had so much fun taking/posting, so please keep tuning in for more updates
now let's get on with making a record...
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
keys = done!
we got some super sweet keyboard sounds out of Steve and Kiley at the studio here and it is definitely one of the best "new" things about this record - not that the sounds were bad before, but everything from using the $30,000 piano to running the keys through little guitar amps has just absolutely been a godsend for this new batch of songs
percussion = done!
shakers, tambourines, floor toms, etc.
Mike got a chance to bask in the sunlight as he beat the snot out of a pair of floor toms - there is definitely something about tracking in the front room and getting to see what is going on outside, on what is a very "industrial" corridor, and feeling the heat of the sun - very liberating
that being said, Eric E's vocals are done on about 6 tracks, give or take a pre-chorus or two
keys are done
percussion overdubs are done
the rest of today (day 9) will be spent doing lead vocals and trumpet
we are hoping to be finished by tomorrow, tracking at least, but that is yet to be seen - Chad and Devin are being super cool about the schedule - in their minds, we are here to make the best record that we can possibly make and something as silly as a schedule shouldn't get in our way - talk about relieving the pressure - it is good to know that we aren't being forced to make compromises on important tracks and that everyone involved is committed to making the best possible record
we witnessed a classic moment today right outside the studio as we were lunching on our sandwiches from Best Buns...
2 "rival" ice cream trucks hit the same street at the same time - seriously, not since the ice cream vendor at the 1904 World's Fair ran out of cups (and teamed up with another vendor to spawn the "Waffle Cone") has something of this magnitude happened in the frozen dairy product industry - it is one thing for two blue honda accords, or two white econoline vans to cross paths, but for two ice cream trucks, from different companies and ethnicities for that matter, to hit the same street at once is just b.a.n.a.n.a.s. - weird
tonight we are looking to partake, for the second night in a row, "Half-Priced Create Your Own Pasta" night at The Luna Grill, which is in walking distance from the studio
we ventured out last night, in search of Italian food, and upon discovering that the Italian place was very much overpriced, resorted to The Luna Grill, where Steve, Stephen and Kiley had eaten days before, only to discover the miracle that is "Half-Priced Create Your Own Pasta" night - which happens every week on Mondays and Tuesdays
we are also hoping that we are not as exhausted as we have been the past few days when we get back to the condo tonight, because we are definitely behind on the newest episodes of The Office and this Thursday night may be the first chance we will have had to catch it LIVE on the air, so we gotsta get prepared
Monday, October 15, 2007
day seven started off with a cacophonous jolt! - Stephen laid down the last of his percussion tracks (stand-mounted baking sheet, shakers, 7-tambourine solo, etc.) - the videos of him performing these tracks are seriously some of the highlights for the last week - gonna have to YouTube this stuff when we get home
after that we got started on lead vocals, which really meant that the rest of us slept, watched movies and did crossword puzzles in the lounge while Eric E. jumped in the booth
vocals, vocals, vocals, vocals, vocals, vocals...
vocals day 1: 4 songs down
*this is a huge accomplishment - the 4 songs with vocals all of a sudden have a new life, which is a great reward after 7 straight days of constructing these song shells bit by bit
after we wrapped the session for the day, we finally got to go to Galaxy Hut, which is a bar down the street [sic], where Nick, the 2nd Engineer from our tracking sessions at Inner Ear, also works
- (everyone here says that things are "right down the street", which is strange because you have to take the 395 to get to everywhere that we have gone and it seems like getting on the highway should negate the phrase "right down the street", oh well)
Nick's band is called The Hailing and they are super awesome, we discovered them today on Myspace and now cannot figure out why Nick downplays his band so much - definitely go check them out
a couple pitchers of Stella Artois proved to be a good finish to another long day of tracking - we will never learn though, our first night to knock off early and we go out to the bars
Ryan and Stephen left to return to St. Louis this morning (Monday) and it was sad to see them go - Mike, Steve and the Erics are now the lone 4 and somehow the condo is still a mess
left to track is Eric E's vocals on 8 songs, Steve's keyboards, vocals and trumpet, and Mike's percussion before we start mixing, which looks to be on Wednesday at our current pace
Sparkling "Mike" has a better falsetto than Steve
Sunday, October 14, 2007
in the short time since our last post, Devin has been replaced by Sparkling "Mike", a tin wind-key robot with real! sparking action, we needed someone who could get the job done for us and "Mike" stepped up to the plate...
in all seriousness though, Devin is really rocking this shit
since we moved from Inner Ear to Silver Sonya, we have been double-timing these overdubs and it finally feels like it is all coming together
songs are beginning to sound whole and we are growing more and more excited to finish this record
Friday: Kiley knocked all of her tracks out like a champ - keys, flute, vocals... + we did group vocals/stomps/claps for three songs
Saturday: Eric E., Mike and Steve's guitars were finished as well as Mike's xylophone parts
here is what is left on our list, we are so close, but there is still a tremendous amount of stuff to do...
Stephen and Mike's last few percussion overdubs
Steve's trumpet and keys
Eric E. and Steve's vocals
week #2 is going to be great - tracking will be finished and mixing will begin
back at the condo we have all started watching Entourage Season 1 - Jeremy Piven is so awesome
we have also taken to listening to the new Radiohead album independently, as opposed to all together in the van on the way to and from the studio - this methodology should make it very interesting on the long drive home when all of our opinions coalesce at once
hopefully we will have some photos of the sites next week when Chad kicks us out of the studio to start mixing - we are all very excited to see the Smithsonian
Ryan and Stephen leave tomorrow to head back to St. Louis, leaving Eric E., Steve, Mike and Eric H. here for the remainder of the week - let's wish them a safe journey home
we found this place to have some really cool crossword puzzles...
Saturday, October 13, 2007
As Kiley sits at the airport waiting for her flight, which has been delayed almost 5 hours at this point, and Stephen and Ryan plan their Monday morning departure, it becomes apparent that our first week here is slowly drawing to a close. The tracks sound great, but we still have a lot to do. Mike is currently banging out the remainder of his guitar parts, while vocal tracking still looms large, and Steve has yet to track anything. Luckily, the guys here are total champs and are dedicated to doing this record right and not sacrificing quality for time, so we've adjusted our timeframe to comfortably accomodate the rest of the recording process - making sure we're not rushing things and regretting mediocre takes.
Looking back to Sunday, when we first loaded our gear in and got acquainted with the studio space, it doesn't seem like we could have even anticipated things going as well as they have. Yes, we've been running behind, but anyone with a halfway healthy sense of reality had to have expected that to happen - the most important thing is that everything is sounding great. Really great. Almost TOO gr-- naw, never mind.
Anywho, here's our "Go Team!" moment from Sunday night:
Friday, October 12, 2007
capital city conundrums and monkey bread madness bring day four of tracking to a close...
drums - done
bass - done
$30k piano - done
eric's guitars - done
tensions are high - we are running about a day behind the original schedule
chad and devin seem confident that we will finish on time, which is extremely helpful considering the extremely long list of things that have yet to be tracked - here are just a few of those items
mike and steve's guitar
kiley and steve's keyboards
stomps and claps
vocals, vocals, vocals
etc. etc. etc.
kiley leaves to go back to st. louis tomorrow, so we are hoping that we have all of her tracks completed by the end of friday
cross your fingers
that being said, we have discovered a wonderful new place called Best Buns Bread Co. - MMMMMMMonkey Bread!!! - man this stuff is good - it has inspired multiple impromptu songs in its honor
hearing Headlights' record playing through the walls has been a good boost for us - we are definitely excited to play with them again on November 7th @ The Bluebird
aside from the stress of trying to complete a record in two weeks, we are all having a great time - the weather has been wonderful, the sites that we see on the way to and from the studio are amazing and we arrive everyday to a place that has begun to feel like home - devin, nick, chad, tj and don have all been so wonderful to work with
plus, this shit is sounds bangin!
Janet Jackson "Rhythm Nation"
Thursday, October 11, 2007
bass = done!
guitar = almost done (eric's that is)
it has been an incredibly long week thus far - 12 to 14 hour days worth of GAH played repeatedly over the speakers
that being said, everything is sounding incredible
Devin has proposed some minor changes here and there with the rhythm section and it has paid off tremendously - sections of songs that we have grown accustomed to have now found a new life
today's schedule is a daunting one...
a) the remainder of Eric E's guitar
b) the remainder of Stephen's drums
c) some piano
d) stomps and claps
e) and if we have time... Steve and Mike's guitars, trumpet, etc.
today also is the last day that we are tracking on the Inner Ear side of the studio, as we move back into Silver Sonya tomorrow to finish up the tracking and to start mixing on Monday
it has been weird to hear a familiar sound coming through the walls as we sit in the lounge
TJ Lipple, from Aloha, has just started mastering the forthcoming Headlights LP and it sounds amazing - these guys are such good friends of ours and it is just another point on a long list of fateful happenings with regards to making this record
So Many Dynamos are in town tonight - hopefully we can figure out a way to make it over to catch their set
Hawksley Workman "For Him and The Girls"
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
previously on the GAH Recording Blog...
drums, for the record have been tracked, save for a series of Stephen's overdubs and one "mystery" song
Devin presented us with a 9x12 grid (songs down the left, instrument cataegories across the top) - this means that we are not "done" with this record until we have filled up all 108 boxes on the grid, which does not account for any experimental indulgences we may make later on in the process and is somewhat vague considering that one column called "drums" is supposed to account for two members of the band, thus causing many blocks on the grid to be divided into two seperate smaller blocks
which brings us to day three...
1) we're gonna get bass'd in the face by eric h.
2) eric e. will most likely come back with and equal and opposite reaction on guitar
3) stephen's gonna bang Rhianna on a cookie sheet
4) and... maybe some other guitars, keyboards, items from the briefcase o' percussion, vocals?, etc....
The Sarah Silverman Program
St. Vincent "Marry Me"
Radiohead "In Rainbows"
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Monday, October 8, 2007
Greetings to you and yours and from us and ours.
Here we are in our nation's capitol, ankles-deep into tracking our new full-length at Silver Sonya Studios, in Arlington, VA. Drums are in the bag on 5+ songs (Call It Casual, You and Me, Madly..., 24th, In A Bed of Scissor Arms, New Moon, A Good Son), and we're a couple hours away from wrapping up our first night of tracking. But not everything has gone so smoothly...
Friday night we stopped off at Earlham College in Richmond, IN, to play a house party with a couple local bands - both of whom ripped through energetic sets and had us totally psyched to keep up the night's momentum. We opened with "I Used To Dream About Bridges", which had the packed room bouncing around and heating things up, setting up "Call It Casual", which banged up until the second verse, when we were rudely interrupted by the arrival of the po-lice. The minors split out the back door, and everyone else fought for their right to party while the officers wandered around carding kids and explaining why people can't be on the front porch drinking because that's public intoxication. Disagreements abound and three arrests later, the house show - and party - is officially over.
Saturday brought a different kind of show entirely, opening up a show at a D.C. dive bar for a friend-of-a-friend and a couple local bands. The crowd (who mostly showed up after we finished) was a bunch of young(ish) professionals out to get loose and socialize (or maybe "socially network"?), who probably wouldn't have paid much attention to our set anyway, seeing as they didn't seem to care a whole lot about the acts they (presumably) came to see. All that aside, we got to play for Devin, one of the engineers at Silver Sonya, who enjoyed our set and got to formulate some recording ideas for the week to come.
Our drive to the condo we rented was a little (well, no, very) intimidating, as we basically rolled straight through the ghetto at 1 a.m., ending up on a small inner city dead end, at the end of which sat our condo. Not really having any bearings as to where we were, and fearing that our surroundings might be the high-crime-rate type, it was night spent worrying about our gear in the truck.
The next day brought relief (our gear was fine), and a trip through some really cool restored neighborhoods near downtown D.C. (and actually really close to our condo) and on down to the Eastern Market to rummage through a bunch of cool vendor tents. Later that day, we finally got to set foot in the studio - loading all our gear in and getting the room arranged and mics placed.
Which brings us to today, the first day of tracking, which has gone tremendously well and is about to draw to a close. We're loving the way everything is sounding, we're loving the guys here (Devin, Nick, TJ and Chad are greater than great), and we're so psyched about the rest of the week. It looks like this record is going to be something we can be really proud of, and hopefully something all of you really want to listen to. Over and over again. Forever.