I’m talking a lot. I talk so much when I’m nervous. Why am I nervous? This guy is so nice.
Chris Freeland’s studio is in scenic Woodstock, MD, a place I didn’t even know existed until I went there to record backing vocals on a track for Midway Fair’s Jon Patton. Chris is a really unintimidating person, and so is his slightly disheveled studio. Way out here, there’s no need for tiny soundproof rooms with glass walls, and I can’t stand those ultra-sanitary places. I need to see a bunch of miscellaneous instruments sitting around and a well-worn couch. Chris has those things, and they make me comfortable.
I have already selected an order for my track listing. I explain that this album tells a story that constantly apologizes for being too truthful. It will be called “Unravel: Acts of Contrition, Volume I.” The apology is in the title, for fucks sake. Right now, I have 10 solid songs that comprise a Side A and a Side B. Something is missing in the middle – another song? Maybe an intermission. He asks to listen to Side A, and I play all five songs.
He really listens to every detail. I talk about some of the things I like in recordings and play him a couple of my favorite examples of engineering. “One” as performed by Aimee Mann. “Sleeping Lessons” by The Shins. Clean vocals, lots of layering. I’m not a big fan of reverb on vocals, and neither is he. All good signs. We’re going to work well together.
I’m recovering from a cold, but we want to get something accomplished, so we decide to lay down a scratch track of the first song on the album, “Autumn.” I play to a click track (successfully! this is so difficult for me and I did it!) and then go back and add vocals. We listen to playback and I try to explain what I like and what I want and I realize
I just don’t have a vocabulary for this. I want it to sound more… something. Less something else. YES I like that tone. I like the brightness of this one but it sounds hollow. I have a lot to learn.
I’m going back next week. The thing is, I finally started this. Finally.