Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Another Day With The Howls

Saturday I flew in from SF, went to lunch with my family and got straight to work at John's house tracking his guitar parts. Everything went rather smoothly. I mean, as smoothly as it can go with an old upright M-Box with the face falling off and the headphone jack coming out of the side.

Well, what else can you really do? I sat there, on an old Mac running Pro-Tools 7 with one processor of 1.67MB of RAM, which maximum capacity was recording 1 track of audio for 5:30 minutes before it crashes. I figure, without limitations, what summons creativity?

So I got some of the best guitar sounds ever. To be honest, I wish I had a Sennheiser 421 to get the lower end sounds of the guitar amp to recreate the "warmth" that they wanted, but the SM57 worked just fine. And in the end, who really cares?

We recorded Boaz's guitar Sunday. The tones I was getting from him with just a 57 were killer. Some tracks I used a small cap condenser on, but for the most part, the 57 carried most of the weight.

I realized something while I was sitting there, in a bedroom, in an apartment a few blocks away from the beach, with equipment that I probably wouldn't even have the heart to give to someone for free (for the purposes of audio recording). I realized that I honestly didn't care what equipment I had, it sounded good because this was real music. I'm sure I will rarely experience that in a professional career as a producer. There we all were, with our Arizona green tea and our M-Box, just ready to rock.

I was in the heart of American music. I am working desperately to capture its sound and deliver it to you uncontaminated by greedy hands by this summer. (Oh what a deadline...) By uncontaminated, I mean I am free to give The Howls exactly what they want without a company breathing down my neck as I mix. (I've had people breathe down my neck as I have mixed before, it's not good.)

Today was more relaxed. John and I were at it again, but this time it was just him and I, recording his vocals in his room behind windows pattered on by the evening rain. I fashioned a pop screen out of a coat hanger and some nylon tights in about 2 minutes flat. (I've never done that before, but I've heard it works. It does, really well actually, but it looks so stupid.)

It's really amazing to see these things come together, and probably my favorite part as an engineer. When you begin a session, you start setting up mics to capture the best sound, and you record these parts, and parts and parts, and keep making them sound good. For me, when the singer records his/her part, it becomes a song for me, and that's so cool to see. An artist unfolds an idea right in front of your eyes, and it comes to fruition. What amazed me more was how killer everything sounded. I mean, this was a bedroom, with 6 different mics, and an outdated M-Box with the guts spilling out, and listening on some old computer speakers that you probably remember playing Command and Conquer on.

Wait till I get The Howls into a studio.

In other news, I hand-crafted the grill to my microphone today, and found out that the most important part won't arrive while I'm home, which really annoys me. That's ok. I'm still missing parts. I think I'll be done if I work hard on it tomorrow.

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