FP Instagram Feed

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Weekly Update 7-29-10

The Latest...

1) For all intents and purposes, Jake's bass lines are finished on 'Marigolds' as of 9pm this evening. He came. He saw (err...listened). And he conquered. Funny thing is that he had actually practiced one of his crucial bass line maneuvers incorrectly most of the week (wrong notes), yet when he came in for tonight's recording session he was still able to relearn/play the correct parts in a matter of minutes. Impressive. Very impressive. The crucial bass line in question is rather tricky on the brain and especially on the fingers, but he made it look and sound easy. A real professional that Jake is...

2) 'SOY' is nearing the end of its tracking sessions. It has proven to be more difficult and elaborate than we originally expected. But we are prevailing. I still need to record some more of my vocal layers and variations, and we have one other non-FP person in mind for helping with the some of the backing vocals. I am also getting ready to set up a multi-mic array on one of my amp rigs to lay down the lead guitar solo section on 'SOY' as well as everything in 'Marigolds'. I'll take some pictures once we get it all set up and rolling.

3) 'Rabbit Hole' is still in the works but somewhat on hold as we pick up the pace on the 'SOY' and 'Marigolds' recordings.

4) As mentioned in my last post, I took on a quickie London-based mixdown project. It has gone well and it may very well lead to more work of this sort down the road. And if nothing else, it was a good detour from our FP material and helped clear my head a little bit since I got to help solve someone else's mix issues. Funny how it helps to pull away from the things that are most near and dear to us (in this case the FP material). It was almost like a 'working vacation' and it has really helped relight the fire in me to sing and perform on our own band material.

5) Yesterday I got to be the first (non-family) test driver for a newly formed guitar company called Vibrance Guitars. The good folks at Vibrance brought the two prototypes by my house and all I can say is 'Wow'. I've been privileged to have a small hand in certain elements of the design of these new guitars from their inception, although I do say that lightly. Craig Collins, the owner and luthier of Vibrance Guitars, has obviously done the real work. He's just asked for my opinions and thoughts along the way as he has designed developed his first two prototypes. But his prototypes were stunning in every way. And my own very first Vibrance Guitar is soon in the works! I cannot wait! Craig is a perfectionist and his high level of craftsmanship is evident in every way. I will definitely take lots of gratuitous pics of my guitar(s) once it is finished.

That's it for now....

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Todd

Friday, July 23, 2010

Weekly Update: 7-23-10

And now for the Evening FP News...

Things have been very busy this week. A huge chunk of this week has been allocated to various tracking sessions on both 'Marigolds' and 'Some Other Year':

1) The first session of the week was with Jake playing bass sections on 'Marigolds'. He has been able to put a lot more time into his parts on this one and we've spent more time per section than previously on 'Sycamore' or 'SOY'. Fortunately the extra time has proved to be worth the effort and Jake's bass lines have been quite stellar and have elevated 'Marigolds' to another level as a song. He's very very good and very consistent. And he's also got a natural knack for bass and is quite creative with it. Fun fun fun...

2) The second session of the week was with my sister Charlyn singing backing vocal textures for 'Some Other Year'. I had a couple of melodic ideas in my head that she was able to crank out effortlessly, and then she took several takes doing improv. It was stunning. And in the immortal words of my late Grandpa Bush, all I could I could do was raise my eyebrows and say 'Damn'. I wish I had her sort of vocal intuition and control. Under normal circumstances I would assume such a person with her natural vocal ability was not 100% human but rather part-alien or something. But alas I've known her since she was brought home from the hospital as a newborn and I in fact know for certain that she is a mere human being (unless of course I'm also part-alien...hmmm...never really thought about that until just now...)

3) The third tracking session was with an old friend of mine, Thomas 'Tommy' Holley. I had him come in and sing some unison vocals alongside the main vocal in the choruses. We never actually went through any sort of vocal tryouts or screening with him since I could still remember how Tommy had quite a talent for singing back when we were growing up. We had a good time and laughed a lot and he was a real pleasure to work with (as I figured he would be). Then after his vocal session, we (Tommy, his son, my youngest son, and myself) all went out to his place in the country and shot air-soft guns. I mentioned how badly those air-soft BB's hurt when they hit the palm of your hand (has happened to me only once and will only happen once), and so Tommy stuck out his hand to 'take one for the team' at point-blank range. That ended up being a bad idea. For Tommy that is. When my son Anderson pulled the trigger, Tommy ran off yelling like a madman and was shaking his hand wildly. Turns out he ended up with a crescent-moon shaped blood blister in the center of his palm. It was pretty funny (and impressive) after the fact, but I'd venture to say that will be the last time he (knowingly) volunteers his any part of his flesh to an air-soft BB at close range.

Tsk. Tsk. Tsk...


4) The fourth tracking session of the week was another bass session with Jake for more 'Marigolds' sections. Steady is as steady does. Did I mention that Jake is very good at what he does? Good tones. Good times.

5) And lastly, I have volunteered my mixdown services to a London band for one of their latest songs. They've done all of the tracking and leg-work and they are having me take a stab at the mixdown. It's good stuff and a good song, and I think I fell in love with the singer's voice (the singer is a 'she' incidentally). If this first one works out, perhaps there will be more to come? Will see....At any rate, this sort of mixdown work is fairly easy for me (and a lot of fun) and it offers a nice change of pace from the FP stuff whenever I need a mental change of pace.

6) I have someone else in mind for more backing vocals on 'Some Other Year' and so hopefully we'll get him into the studio early next week. And then I still need to sing more overdubs I think, and then I plan on setting up a four-microphone set-up on one of my 4x12 speaker cabs so that I can finish tracking guitars on 'SOY' and also begin tracking guitars on 'Marigolds'. One minute I'm a producer/engineer, then a freelance mixer, then a guitarist, then a singer. Plus a dad, a husband, a homeschool teacher (for my 10th and 11th grade sons), a guitar instructor, etc.. (And every now and then I need to slip in some fishing...) Keeps me busy. For now I have reduced my guitar instructor load down to three days. Hopefully that will suffice for a long while so that I can have time to pursue other options of music-related revenue. It's all good in the meantime...can't complain!

That's all for now. Keep checking back for more updates and FP news!

~ Todd

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

FP Video Blog Episode 2: Late-Night Calisthenics



For our next installment in the FP Video Blog series, we offer you a 5-minute clip of me 'farting around' (figuratively speaking) on my blue Telecaster 'Daphne' while my younger son Anderson is 'farting around' (literally) while shooting the HD camera. This footage was taken at a very late hour back when I bought my first Line 6 SpiderValveMk2 half-stack. I was unwinding after as busy day (sometime back in March 2010) and I was casually exploring a few arpeggios and scales.

Also, at the very tail-end of this video I played the main intro riff to our upcoming song 'Rabbit Hole'.

About the style of this footage: the ambient lighting was horrible for shooting film, and I didn't even realize Anderson had the camera on me at first, so we ended up using an 'Edge Detection' video effect (plus B&W) on the entire clip in order to brighten things up a bit. As such, this entire video may at first seem corny or haphazard, and in a way I would agree with you, but at the core I felt like this was a good representation of how things are around the house when I am working on stuff. Also, I really dig how the frets, strings and pickguard stand out with this sort of video treatment. It almost has a cartoon-ish vibe to it. Hope you enjoy the nonsense and the casual approach we took with this episode...

~ Todd

Friday, July 2, 2010

Weekly Update: 7-2-10

Just a few quickies here:

1) 'Some Other Year' has made some major progress this week. Last week Jake and I spent a couple hours focused on recording my chorus vocals and this week I have gone through all of those takes and organized the 'keepers'. Sounds easy but it can really wear your brain out just making decisions on what to keep and what to trash. Some takes are obviously no good when played back, but the good sounding ones can be hard to sift through because of all of the subtle differences. What's more...this sort of editing is more technically challenging versus creatively fulfilling and so I tend to lose some of my creative connection to my guitar playing when wearing the Producer/Engineer hat. Ughh. Which leads me to...

2) I have had a fairly crappy week this week in regards to my guitar playing. I think the logical/technical side of my brain is hogging all of its synapses from the creative side. Go figure. But it seems like every time I have picked up a guitar this week (including at band practice) I have fumbled around on the strings as if I am clueless. At band practice this week, Matt was even joking with Jake saying (about me) 'See? He's human...' What an epic fail. Oh well...the pendulum will eventually swing the other way. And it will be glorious (and hopefully that will happen about the time I am scheduled to lay down guitar tracks on something)....

3) 'Rabbit Hole' is still being mapped out on some of the finer details, especially for a bridge section. I still need to come up with some good guitar parts for some accents in the bridge section. This song gets pretty loud and ballsy at that point so I need to figure out some guitar parts to match. Once those parts are in place and have passed the litmus test of 'live playing' at band practice, then we should be fairly close to drum tracking sessions for 'Rabbit Hole'. It has come along quicker than I anticipated. Good deal...

4) Jake has totally delivered some creative genius by way of his bass lines for 'Marigolds' this week. We spent a couple of days recording more bass lines on 'Marigolds' this week and he totally nailed the vibe on what was needed. Got to love a bass player who can discern the fine line of when to support kick drum rhythmic accents, rhythm guitar riffs, or key vocal melody lines, all while keeping his volume dynamics consistent and most all playing with feeling. That's Jakeman in a nutshell....

So that's it for now. Working on three different songs that are all at three different phases is both challenging and fun. Can't wait to show these tunes off in the not-so-distant future....

Peace and Love ~

Todd