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Friday, January 29, 2010

Official 'Sycamore' Release Is Here!!!

Yep....You read it correctly! 'Sycamore' is here!

'Sycamore' mp3 link (9.6MB)

(P) 2010 The FP Theory

Credits:

Matt Goodner - Drums
Jake Lockard - Bass
W. Todd Reynolds - Guitars, Vocals

"The Argument" - Matt and Charlie Hester
Recorded improv on location with Todd's iPhone.
(They were just acting it out for us....they have a good marriage. Seriously.)

Recorded and Produced by FP
Engineered by W. Todd Reynolds
Lyrics by W. Todd Reynolds

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Weekly Update 1-28-10

And here's the latest FP gossip....

1) After yet more toiling over unexpected shortcomings in 'Sycamore', I do believe I will have it wrapped up and ready for download sometime tomorrow. We have been feverishly checking beta mixes of it on various systems (home theaters, car stereos, headphones, boomboxes, PC speakers, you name it...) and we have the final version in our sites. All that needs done at this point is to soften the high frequencies just a couple of dB on the drums, and deal with some mild sibilance issues on words (mainly some strident ssss's). Past that I need to make some last minute (and very minor) adjustments to volume settings on a couple tracks, then it should all be a go. Will take me about two to three hours to get all of that done and then we should be in business. If you check this blog with any frequency at all, I'd highly encourage you to keep checking for download links throughout the weekend. The wait is nearly over....

2) Tonight we worked on 'Marigolds' again and it is coming along quite nicely. I threw together a quick arrangement demo CD for Jake and Matt on some of the ideas I had about certain sections and now they'll start messing with things to come up with more parts and ideas. And the song will blossom. Also, after having succeeded in singing on 'Sycamore' way beyond what I thought I would be capable of, we made the unanimous decision tonight that I should belt out the vocals on 'Marigolds' in my 'higher' range. And it feels good. Really good. So long as I pump enough air out. Should be fun! And Matt and Jake will even have vocal parts on 'Marigolds' as well....there is a 'Woo Hoo!' part in the choruses that we are all going to do together. Sounds silly to read about it here on the blog but once you hear it you'll get the idea. 'Marigolds' is a fun pop song and it's happy. We suspect our female listeners will especially like this song. Case in point, over the last couple of months my wife Julia has been asking me when we are going to do the 'Woo Hoo' song. It's like she just wants to sing along with it even though it technically doesn't exist yet. Well folks, it is time....Woo Hoo!

3) Next week we are hoping to begin a weekly-ish, band Video-Blog and we'll host those on our infant YouTube Channel. (We really need to get over there and spruce it up a bit and come up with more FP-friendly decor....) Those YouTube videos will also get posted here for your convenience of course. As such, I still plan on writing blog entries the old-fashioned way, but the Video-Blog method will help us perhaps draw in more fans and exposure and it will also let folks see us in action and feel like they are a part of all things FP. I'm also hoping it will allow people to also get a better understanding of the work and details that are involved with recording our songs. It is my intent to keep each V-Blog under the ten minute mark (will keep them shorter if possible). Just updates and such. We'll probably do longer 'special event' V-Blogs on occasion but for now we are going for simplicity and convenience. Stay tuned...

4) Jake has officially started recording his bass tracks for 'Some Other Year' and we now have several sections done. I have also set up mics on my old Fender Super Reverb amp and will begin recording guitar parts just as soon as I get 'Sycamore' wrapped up and released. But already our pacing and workflow is going much quicker (and easier) with 'SOY' versus our maiden voyage 'Sycamore'. Would be cool to have 'SOY' ready to go in a couple of months while at the same time working on 'Marigolds'.

5) Jake and I came up with some really nice song starter ideas the other day for a couple more new ones. Working titles are 'The Antebellum' and 'Intervention'....both of which are kind of brooding (in a good FP-ish way). Lyrically 'Antebellum' is about not wanting to talk problems out, even though we know they are looming over us. Not in a political sense but rather in a relationship sense. Kind of like how people bury themselves in their jobs, their busy lifestyle, their possessions, their kids, their over-involvement at church or social organizations, night-school, or whatever else that keeps them too busy to be real or transparent with their spouse or significant other. Musically speaking, in my head there is a rather heavy section (again, in a cool FP-ish fashion) where things come to a head lyrically, and as such it will likely be a good song for when you need time alone to decompress or escape from whatever haunts you. But it won't hide you from yourself. Au contraire my dear readers. If anything, perhaps it will encourage a willingness to open up the festering wounds that we so tightly guard to the point of preventing our own healing. Sometimes we need to see past the impending conflicts in our relationships and say how we feel and aim for the growth that comes on the back-end of being open and honest. Honesty is raw and oftentimes ugly and embarrassing, yet there is no substitute for the trust and respect that you gain for being upfront and authentic. Iron sharpens iron....

As to 'Intervention', it will likely feature several versions (10?) with different lyrics and perhaps varying guitar solos in each version. In one sense the idea in my head is grand, yet other than extra singing and extra guitar solo parts, everything else will be mostly the same. As a matter of fact I already have 2 full lyric variations and two halves of variations already written. (And 'The Antebellum' lyrics are 85% done already.) Why the different versions you ask? Well....'if I told you then I'd have to kill you.' Hehe...You'll see in time. We have several other songs on the front burners that will come first so it may be a bit. But all of these are in the works as we speak. No shortage of ideas....

So I guess that is a good place to park this blog entry. I'd write more but I need a mind-numbing break (shooting villains on XBox 360) and it has gotten late. Will try to get 'Sycamore' posted this weekend. Until then....

~ Todd

Friday, January 22, 2010

Weekly Update 1-22-10

And here's the latest FP info....

1) 'Sycamore' is in the final mixing/mastering stage. We have officially begun listening to the mix on various systems and we're taking notes of any show-stopping quirks that might randomly pop-up. We even have a handful of mono pre-release CDR's floating around because I thought I had the mix in the bag so to speak but then we noticed some trouble with the kick drum levels in the low-low-end (50-60Hz). Also, I need to divvy up the 'master buss reverb' a little bit better to prevent muddiness in the low frequencies. Maybe a smidge less sibilance on the main vocals, a slight volume tweak on the rhythm guitars on one of the section segues, etc.. But overall, if I'm lucky and if my producer/engineering ninja skills are 'on', then all of that could be wrapped up in perhaps a matter of 2-3 hours? (Or if my ninja skills are not 'on', it might take a couple of days?) We'll see what tomorrow brings. But now would be the time to make more frequent stops by our blog as 'Sycamore' will be showing up very very soon....

2) 'Some Other Year' (SOY) will soon become my main focus studio-wise. Jake starts bass recording on it Monday. We previously tried to start on the bass tracks but when we ran into technical issues we decided to postpone tracking his parts. But now we are ready to attack it again and once his bass parts are underway then I will be hot on his trail with my guitar parts. Then more vocals, then ear-candy, then the mixdown. Fun fun fun!

3) 'Marigolds' Pre-Production sessions officially began tonight. Yippee!!! Now for those who are wondering what 'Pre-Production Sessions' are, those sessions are when we actually start fleshing out the instrumentation to a song. Usually a song starts out as a riff or a vocal melody. Then someone comes up with lyrics. Or not. Just depends. But then more riffs and/or lyrics are written to accompany the original riffs/lyrics. And then we start messing with all of those ideas collectively as a band. At that point we all contribute ideas and we feed off of each others ideas and see what just naturally happens. Then those ideas start getting arranged in whatever order seems best and then we usually try to capture as many of those ideas and sections as possible by recording ourselves playing as a band (this is usually done by recording via my iPhone or maybe by sticking a single mic up in the middle of the room). And so we record those 'diamond-in-the-rough' ideas before they evaporate (and before we all go our separate ways until the next band practice) and then those ideas get listened too and tweaked and modified as needed, and then those rough recordings become our sketchbook of the song's arrangement. A blueprint of the song if you will. So all of that effort goes into every song before we ever attempt to 'officially' record anything. But that insures that everyone has a clear direction on what needs to take place in the recording sessions once we actually start producing the song. Pre-Production ends up being more about putting more effort at the beginning of a song's life in order to make the recording phase of things much more efficient and productive. And that is where 'Marigolds' is currently at: the Pre-Production phase. And this is the stage of things where most of the cool moments and magic happens. We all screw up or miss our cues on something, or maybe someone drops a beat or plays the wrong note and the right time, etc.. But when those 'oops' moments occur, sometimes they can become the heart and soul of a song. I can't count how many times I have messed up on something guitar-wise only to discover changes and ideas that were completely brilliant. All because I made a mistake. And that happens to us as a band. And it's good when those new ideas manifest themselves. And so in a nutshell, that is Pre-Production. Probably the most enjoyable part of a song's creation....

4) Random tidbits from my brain: Long Island Iced Tea is pretty good with some orange juice added. So is white wine. Weird. But good. Also, sugar-free Pina Colada flavored popsicles should be against the law. Period. Pina Colada is such a unique flavor anyway, and it revolves around sweetness, so why make 'sugar-free' versions of it in a popsicle form? If the good Lord wanted pineapples and coconuts to taste sour then He wouldn't have put natural sugars in them. Right?! Needless to say I made myself finish the popsicle in question, but it won't happen again. Just plain nasty. I think the inventor of sugar-free Pina Colada popsicles must not have any tastebuds on his or her tongue. Or maybe it was a terrorist attack....against good flavor. Blah....

5) I go in for new glasses and contacts tomorrow (along with Tyler and Anderson). Debating on whether or not to tell the optometrist that I am starting to have problems seeing certain things up close. Not bad. Just starting to notice it gradually. Hmmm....

So that's all for now. Will post again soon. Thanks for stopping by!

~ Todd

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weekly Update 1-17-10

Hello FP Fans!!!

Here's the latest:

1) 'Sycamore' is nearing completion as anticipated. How much longer you ask? Days perhaps. Not 100% sure. Still sorting out a couple trouble spots that didn't really appear until I began mixing everything down. And yes I am at the mixdown stage. (Yeessssss....) That being said, I am still doing some light editing as needed, but all actual tracking is completed and has been completed for over two weeks now. Vocals, guitars, bass, drums, phone rings, 'The Argument', and a bunch of other crazy things that got thrown into the pot. (In my world, there is such a fine and blurry line between editing and mixing. Hard to do one without the other.) Matt and Jake came over this past Thursday night to help me mix the drums and we have those drums pretty much where they need to be soundwise. At this point there are a couple of minor EQ issues to sort out on some of my clean guitar tracks where I played my Les Paul (which hereafter will be called "The '05") through my vintage Fender Super Reverb. I considered scrapping the original takes but decided that I can fix the issue in the mix since the performances themselves were fine. And that's that.

Umm....let's see....

1B) 'Sycamore' is turning out to be quite a long song, at least by modern pop radio standards. And to be perfectly honest folks, Jake, Matt and myself don't really give a flip how long a song is if it is good. (And neither should you.) And yes we could strip 'Sycamore' down to the basic song elements if we wanted to and yes 'Sycamore' would still stand on its own if we did that. But why thin out a recording and compromise what we are hearing in our heads? We aren't tethered to any record label contracts (yet) so we figure we will enjoy our artistic freedom. Nice. Fortunately for you, our prospective listeners, that means that there is a lot of interesting 'ear candy' going on that will engage you after many repeated listens. And one of the main goals we have in mind as a band is 'timeless originality'. Will our songs still resonate with people after ten or twenty years? Will people hear new details and hidden gems in the recording with each listen? Will people find themselves humming our songs and making the lyrics personal? That is what we are aiming for. Less attention to 'flavor of the month' trends and more focus on good song writing and solid production.

(And very soon you shall all be able to hear our debut recording and let us know if it was a hit or miss....)

2) On a more personal note, I have had many many distractions of late. Had Jury Duty for the first two weeks of January. Ughh. Only had to actually go in to the courthouse twice during those two weeks, but just knowing that each day held the potential of being stuck in a court case (or two or three court cases in a row) was a pain in the arse. Hard to make normal plans when you may have to go to be a juror (or else have a sheriff show up to haul your butt to jail for disregarding your summons)....well that just sucks in my book. Surely there is a better way? And since I am self-employed, that meager $10 a day for being a juror is kind of a moot point. Again, what a pain.

2B) Another distraction that hit once the holidays were done (since I am whining and complaining and venting here....bear with me folks....this too shall pass) was a leaky roof. We had been smelling a musty, smoky aroma in our front closet since around mid-October but could never figure out what was causing the stink. Well, one day my son Anderson noticed a lot of aggressively growing mold on the plaster walls that surrounded our house's chimney. Thus the reason for the smell was made manifest. Not sure how we missed it beforehand. Of course, as luck would have it (and not the kind of luck you would normally want), there were several inches of snow on our roof when Anderson made that discovery. So, we found mold, which in turn pointed to a leaky roof, a roof which could not be accessed until the snow melted (our roof is way too steep to get on when there is snow covering it). And so we had to wait for the snow to melt, which meant even more water damage, and of course more mold. Good times. So we clamored to clear out our closet in hopes of rescuing coats, board games, homeschool supplies, and a myriad of other odds and ins of minor interest (i.e. things we normally shove in a closet since we don't want our house to look cluttered when people stop by to visit). And so today I took the afternoon and patched the roof in several suspicious places (the snow was gone and the temperature was all the way up to a balmy 40*F) and then I gutted the damaged plaster walls in the closet and removed the mold. Such nastiness it was. And so now we just need to let the closet air out for a few days, and then (if the roof is no longer leaking), I'll rebuild the closet so we can shove our junk back into it. The Joys of Home Ownership.

2C) More personal trinkets of info here. Just finished reading "The Running Man" by Richard Bachman (an early-career alias for Stephen King) and I really enjoyed it. But it was a short novella and didn't last me very long. So then I picked up a copy of John Grisham's 'The Innocent Man' that someone gave me a while back. But alas is was just not my thing. At least not at this present time. Maybe it will hit the spot at a later date. Will hang on to it just in case. But at this point I have parked it and have moved on. So now I am reading 'The Lovely Bones' by Alice Sebold and I am quite smitten. Granted the recent trailers for the new movie 'The Lovely Bones' was a good attention-getter for me, but what really got me hooked was the 1st chapter sample I downloaded for my iPhone's Kindle Reader App. So I bought the Kindle e-version of it. And six chapters later I find myself looking forward to laying in bed each night so that I can read more of it before falling asleep. It is simply hard to put down. Very well written with a very captivating storyline and strong character development. That is how all fiction books should be. If I were an author, this would be the sort of book I would want to pen. Highly recommended....

So that is all for now. As mentioned, the release of 'Sycamore' is imminent. And there are several songs in waiting. The fun is about to begin folks....

Until next time....

~ Todd

Sunday, January 3, 2010

First Song Release Approaching....

Hola!

Just wanted to make a quick post about the last couple of weeks. In between holiday events, sleeping-in, moving/relocating, too much eating and 'making merry', Christmas shopping and a slew of other distractions, we've all been enjoying some downtime as a band. We pushed really hard to complete Matt's drums for Song #2 ('Some Other Year') before the busy holiday season hit and since then we've been taking a brief hiatus. All things being equal, we'll be resuming our writing/rehearsal sessions this coming week for Song #3 ('Marigolds'). 'SOY' is written and arranged and it simply needs to be properly recorded as soon as 'Sycamore' is buttoned up.

Per 'Sycamore'....There have been several delays (admittedly on my end of things) and issues that I have been addressing in order to polish it up to a level that I am happy with. And I'm fairly picky when it comes to recording quality and song vibe. I have literally been singing my parts until I wear out or else make my throat raw. But the worst (i.e. the most challenging vocal parts) are finished. However in the middle of working on those parts I managed to catch a lovely little head cold which has put a temporary hold on finishing those parts up. I am hoping to have enough of my voice back tomorrow to sing the remainder of parts needed. Also, I have roughly a third of the guitar solo sections completed. All that remains is to find the elusive tones needed for some melodic guitar leads that are on tap. I have had plans of featuring a 'heated argument' between a guy and gal (my sister and her husband courtesy of my iPhone in their living room) underneath the guitar solo sections, but the verdict is still out on whether or not to include it, mainly as it concerns the song sonically. The idea and concept of 'The Argument' fits the song's feel. I'm just not sure if it will compromise the mix's strengths. We'll see soon enough....

And to top it all off, I received Jury Duty summons for the first two weeks of 2010 so that may steal away time that I'd normally devote to working on the recording chores. Ughhh...['She's's guilty as charged Your Honor....Can I go home now?'] But perhaps this is good timing? What if we (FP) were under a contractual deadline to get more recordings wrapped up and then I got stuck with jury duty? To my knowledge I will be officially exempt from having to serve the same type of jury duty service for the next two years once I am done with this round. Things could always be worse....Still....

Hope all our readers and future fans have had a Merry Christmas and a Happy (and safe) New Year....

~ Todd