Archive for February, 2012

In the Studio

I’m talking a lot. I talk so much when I’m nervous. Why am I nervous? This guy is so nice.

Hardly anyone uses these mixing boards as anything other than tables.

Hardly anyone uses these mixing boards as anything other than tables.

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.