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Friday, October 2, 2009

Weekly Update 10-2-09

Hello All....

Wow! What a busy couple of weeks it has been for FP. Lots to talk about so here goes...

1) Jake's bass parts on 'Sycamore' are all now officially ready for mixdown. All editing and assembly is finished and everything is in its proper place albeit It took a bit more work than I anticipated, largely due to a couple of problems we ran into with the newest incarnation of Apple's Logic 9. I had to figure out a couple of workarounds for things to circumvent the bugs. But all is good and all is finished for Jake on this one...

2) I recorded my first guitar parts for 'Sycamore' this last week. I once again used my 5-mic setup on my late-60's/early-70's Fender Super Reverb amp. Last time I used this elaborate mic setup to record guitar parts with, I had everything situated in our living room which ended up being a hassle because all of my stuff was in everybody's way. This time around I have the amp located towards the middle of my studio room. Not a lot of space but it makes more sense for my family. The only caveat is that my studio room has a fair amount of sound treatment in place, so the overall sound of the amp is drier with less natural room ambience. But past that the mics that are up close and personal sound incredible and are very 'there'. Also, at this point I have only used my venerable Gibson Les Paul. Plenty of other options are hanging on the walls but I just really love that LP in every way. Now the task at hand is to finish tracking the primary rhythm guitar parts enough to where I can begin singing the vocal tracks. Then come the lead guitars and other ear candy items. (About those lead guitars: we decided to double the length of the instrumental bridge section, primarily because the drums and bass sound so cool. When we were originally working out the logistics and song arrangement of the song, I only wrote lead parts for 1/2 of what we now need. I can hear more parts in my head but some of those parts are going to be pretty rough to manage, mainly because of how fast they will need to be. Hopefully this won't take too long to master....)

3) Our band bios are now pretty much done and ready to go. My sister Charlyn did a great job and the guys really loved them.

4) Last night the band got together to preview the drums and bass tracks thus far, and then after the fact we got into some good discussion about short-term and long-term goals, marketing, legal planning, financial planning, what sort of contractual agreements with record labels we will be interested in (and not interested in), and a lot of other areas of preparedness that we want to have in place before unleashing our music to the masses. Given the fact that we are doing the recording/songwriting phase of things sans the interference of label execs and hired-gun producers, we feel it will be in our best interest to delay the release of our multimedia material (in the works) or most of our songs until the bulk of everything is ready to go. That being said, we will most likely hand out 'Sycamore' well in advance of everything else just to hold our circle of family and friends over, and also as a way of letting people know that we are indeed serious about what we are doing. That all being said, we will continue to dole out new photos, song snippets, weekly blog updates, Twitter Tweets, etc, accordingly. But the massive amount of work that lays before us can only be done so fast without compromising the quality of the final product. How long will an album take to record? Who knows...but it will be well worth the wait.

5) Jake makes killer pulled pork BBQ. Dang

6) One thing that will surely speed up the recording process is that I am going to be constructing some bass traps in my studio in the near future. I have the design of the panels figured out and I even have the dark blue fabric picked out that will be used on the face of these panels. Fun stuff (I'm such a geek). But the bass frequency buildup in my little studio room has been a thorn in my side for as long as I have been recording and frankly I'm fed up with having to second guess every move I make in any given mixdown. Also, as Julia and I would like to move to a bigger/nicer domicile sometime in the next few years, I always try to make my studio environment somewhat mobile. Someday I hope to have the coin to move out of that little room into a more suitable place for recording, and ideally all of my sound treatment panels/fixtures will move with me. Someday someone will probably make an honest bedroom out of my studio again....

7) Matt and Jake are ready to start writing parts for the next song 'Some Other Year' so I need to throw down some scratch guide tracks to my guitar parts. And I need to finish the words to it as well. 80% there....

8) Aside from writing guitar parts, practicing singing, writing lyrics, teaching 35-40 weekly guitar lessons, homeschooling my teenage boys, chasing Julia around the proverbial kitchen table, and reading a great Mark Twain novel 'The Mysterious Stranger', I have probably spent at least 15-20 hours this last week-and-a-half getting my head around 'compression' techniques and trying to get much more familiarized with the myriad of compressor plug-ins I have at my disposal. Now for those of you who have no idea what a 'compressor' is, basically it is something you process audio with in order to make the volumes and loudness of things more even and smooth. Problem is there are a ton of different types of compressors out there, and every one of them has strengths and weaknesses. The old motto 'the right tool for the right job' is very appropriate here. For instance, Matt's kick drum has three different microphones that we ended up using to record it with (started out with four but one of those channels bit the dust while we were tracking and we didn't find the problem until after the fact). Each of those mics has its own dedicated track during mixdown. Each of those mics has a different job to do. One is used for thud. One is used for snap. One is used for capturing the 'air' and density around the kick drum, etc. Each mic has its own personality. So the trick is trying to find the right compressor to suit each mic. And yes they are all different. Compound this compressor/mic marriage concept by the 14 mics that were used to record his entire kit with and you get the idea of how tricky those choices can become. And like a good recipe, everything is effected by the individual ingredients. Too much kick drum in the mix will take away from the toms or the bass guitar. Too much of the hi-hat mic can drastically affect the overall tone of the snare drum (because a hi-hat mic usually picks up some of the snare). And the list of interactions goes on and on. And so the real job is to find the right balance of everything in context of the overall mix, and compressors are a key item in that process. So I have literally read manual after manual these last couple of weeks getting reacquainted with all of my compressors and I have also watched probably fours hours of online tutorials on the subject just to get my head back in the know. Some things you don't forget. Other things need reviewed from time to time just to keep it all fresh. But it has been a very productive week for me in this area and I'm actually looking forward to mixing our first song down once it is all tracked and edited.

So there it all is this week. I think that is all for now. And so now it's time to put the laptop down and go to sleep...zzz. If I forgot something then it'll show up in the next post.

Until then....

~ Todd

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