I came into the semester having completed two songs over winter break. I spent many hours in my garage and bedroom recording drums, guitars, and vocals to make a rough demo to have prepared for class. I used this free time over break to explore a few of the cheap preamps and compressors that I own to understand how to properly utilize and route outboard gear. Once I felt that I had messed around enough with the mixes, I sent mp3’s to the rest of my group so that they could relate to where I was coming from. In the fall semester we had talked a little bit about the kind of album that we wanted to create in respect to each other’s favorite genre or popular band. To meet at the ‘middle ground,’ we figured we would have to produce an experimental hard rock album. Of course we would all bring unique sounding tunes to the table, but we really wanted to make everything sound as cohesive as possible.
After the first class time, I quickly charted my songs along with the rest of the group. We met at our scheduled lab times as well as many other times during the first couple of weeks to get the songs up to recordable standards to start drum tracking. When we got together during these rehearsal times, it was apparent that though are songs were all original by themselves them seemed to all be dramatic enough to create a complete flow for an album. We discussed what kind of concept we wanted to create for the album and we all agreed that it would be about a relationship gone wrong. Because most of the lyrics we had already written were about the topic it was a very obvious choice. Each one of the songs plays an important part when looking at the album as a whole.
We considered ‘the golden mean’ approached and approximately 66.6 of the way through the album is the climax which will be a ‘fight’ between the man and woman we are discussing. We have talked about having the album title be ‘she verse me.’ The album concept will deal with topics that most everyone can relate to when having a relationship, but will also have a unique identify when considered song by song. We have lyrics for 4 songs complete and the rest of the lyrics will be written around these 4. The first song for the album is about making choices for what you believe in and not getting lost in the crowd. Another song touches on the topic of infidelity in a relationship and how it can hurt the other person involved. A third song is about falling into a dark place in your life after a breakup has occurred and how to find yourself so that you can regain confidence in a world that has treated you cruelly. The last song on the album is about reaching a point where you don’t really understand what you ever saw in the other person you once where so attracted to. We hope to create a protagonist character to help identify with the many situations that the songs describe. We have some names written down that we are looking over, but nothing is finalized yet. ‘The golden mean’ song is one that Lucas brought to the table. It is the most violent song that we wrote and it features Lucas playing ‘blastbeats’ on the drums. We have talked about having the lyrics be yelled/screamed as this will be right after the character has found out that his partner cheated on him. Another thought that we have is to include an into to the record that introduces important lyrics, a certain feel, or phrases that are essential to understanding the story line. In my mind I hope to make it similar to the ‘Dark Side of Moon’ album where the heart beat starts and random noises are introduced that are heard throughout the rest of the album.
We have a song order made up that is pretty close to being finalized, but we are going to look at the songs once more after all the lyrics are finished and keys signatures are figured out so the order is binding and the motion is fully considered.
I have had very little issues with my other group members. Rehearsals, writing, engineering, and the production processes has gone very smoothly so far. One thing we ran into was that Joe wasn’t happy with the second song that he wrote. We have all worked really hard to push ourselves to write really technically challenging songs without disregarding the emotional aspect that is equally as important...this album is very ambitious on everyone’s part. Joe has since rewritten the song; which if I do say so myself, was very well written to start with. We have been working as a team that is very much understanding of each others situation. Since we have the same group members as last semester we are able to know what to get to work on without even talking to each other...we just do it. Our sound is a lot more refined and each song has been written while closely considering the feel of the rest of the album.
The one issues that is obvious when considering rehearsal is the lack of space and time available for practicing. The music hall has been overbooked and with the addition of mpa 307 this semester, it has been really hard to work in any extra hours. My group has been fortunate enough to squeeze in all the extra hours our busy schedules permit. Usually we have been meeting during our lab times for practice, and end up staying for an extra hour or so chiseling what we have to work with. Sending files by email has also helped to better comprehend what we have in mind for our songs.
There have been a few technical problems that we have faced already this semester. For some reason the computer seems to have slowed down immensely when trying to transfer data after a session. We had to leave an external drive in over night after one session because 2 gigs were estimated at taking over an hour to transfer. To solve this problem I have been bringing in my laptop computer for every session so that we can plug the mothership directly into my computer to copy the data. Unfortunately no one in my group owns a firewire drive so we can’t record audio directly to a device that we own...the computer idea works pretty fast though.
Another problem we where forced to deal with was considering which overhead mics to use. The 414’s have been absent for the last couple of weeks and when thinking over which of the other mics to use, we ended up using the 122’s. The only other option was using the 4050’s as a spaced pair, but I think they are a rather bright mic, so we opted against the idea.
The only instrument that we have tracked so far has been drums. We have written out what we plan on using for the rest of the album, but haven’t really focused on it since we haven’t gotten that far yet.
For drums we used the 122’s as overhead in spaced pair (we used the 414’s for the most recent session.) The d112 was used as kick in placed between the shell and batter skin. The Re20 was used as kick out and placed slightly off center a foot away from the port in the kick. The rack and floor tom had a 421 placed on it. The e22’s were used on the top and bottom of the snare. For the first session we used the 4050 as a hi-hat mic, and the most recent session we used the gold 414. We placed a m160 out 10 feet and 10 high as a relatively close room mic to capture some ambience. We placed a 57 in one of the alcoves for the first session, facing the bare plywood. We hoped this would create some strange reverb that might fit nicely in the track. It ended up sounding rather warm when compared to what I remember of the foyer 57 we tried. For the second session we included a second alcove 57 mic on the opposite side as well as a foyer 57 for kicks. We ran a problem with using so many room mics so I know we already had to scratch one of them during tracking...but I don’t remember which one. We plan on using the 414’s as overhead for the remainder of the drum tracking. Most of the other set up with stay the same for the rest of drum tracking.