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Friday, August 20, 2010

FP Weekly Update: 8-20-10

Just checking in for the week...

1) 'SOY' is getting dangerously close to being ready for mixdown. I sang more overdubs this week and we have all of the backing vocals tracked and (mostly) edited. Backing vocal contributions are coming from Mike Jett, Thomas Holley, my sister Charlyn Hester, myself, and Jake. Jake came in this week and sang a few passes for one of the higher parts we needed and he has a really good voice. Matt and I have decided we'd really like to exploit Jake's hidden vocal talent on a regular basis from now on. I'd classify his voice as being in the elusive 'cool' category. Would easily stand on its own...

2) 'Marigolds' is still where it was last week. Nothing to see here. Move along...

(Here's a pic from the recent 'Marigolds' guitar sessions:)



3) I'm thinking I may want to postpone any more work/rehearsal on 'Rabbit Hole' until 'SOY' is finished, mainly so I can switch hats and be the singer/song-writer/guitarist again for 'Rabbit Hole' versus the producer/mixing engineer that I need to be for 'SOY'. Hard to go back and forth when we get to the intense stage of mixing stuff and putting the finishing touches on a recording like 'SOY'. Plus I have to believe that 'Rabbit Hole' would get shortchanged by my focus on 'SOY'. No hurries though. Quality before Quantity. Everyone wins when we take the time to do things right... :-)

No promises on a release date for 'Some Other Year' yet. Soon. But it should 'Wow' many of you when it hits your ears. Last week Matt heard the rough version of 'SOY' that I've been working on with some of the newer elements and textures, and he made the statement that if 'Sycamore' got people's attention about our style/vibe, 'SOY' will make people think 'Wow...those guys aren't playing around...they're serious'. I think that says it all. And I think that Matt is right...it sounds pretty good. Will be fun to play it live one day...

That's pretty much it for now.

Peace and Love...

~ Todd

Thursday, August 12, 2010

FP Quickie: 8-12-10

This week things are cookin' for FP as we quickly approach the mixdown stage of 'Some Other Year'. A few more vocal overdubs, a guitar solo, and the last section of bass, and then we will be off to the mixdown. There are a ton of tracks on this one so it won't be an overnight mix, but it will be worth the wait!

No FP rehearsals this week due to the mix prep in my studio. Once I start 'getting in the zone', I may only come up for air and brief doses of sunshine. I cannot wait to get this one wrapped up and in people's players. Dang.

'Marigolds' is not too far behind 'SOY'. Lots left to be done, but we have a ton of it recorded already. Mmmm...Mmmm...Mmmmmm...

Be good out there....

~ Todd

Thursday, August 5, 2010

FP Update 8-5-10

Here's the week in review (according to Todd)....

Last Friday: Mowed for a few hours at my late Gma's farm. It was blazin' hot and it wore me out. Then I went home, showered and crashed for a couple of hours in my AC'd bedroom (with two fans blowing straight on me). Then my wife came home from work and woke me up. Both of us were feeling very 'spent' (she had a rough week at work) and so we directly proceeded to the nearest Outback Steakhouse and enjoyed a couple of adult beverages (the whole reason we went to the Outback was because she wanted one of their Wallaby Darned drinks...she had a rough week at work), comfort food, and time with our boys. Then we went home and crashed...

Saturday: I went to work and gave a day's worth of guitar lessons. Then once lessons were wrapped up, Jake and I met up at a local private pond with both of our boats and we proceeded to catch 43 'keeper-sized' bluegills. My two sons went with us and we fished until dark. And the weather was perfect. And best of all no bugs. Then Jake and his dad cleaned all 43 fish. Then I took my boys to Arby's at 10:30pm and we pigged out. And it was exceptionally good. Thus ended Saturday...

Sunday: I woke up utterly exhausted (from mowing in the extreme heat on Friday, giving lots of guitar lessons Sat morning/afternoon, and being in a boat for several hours on Saturday night). I was seriously considering opting out of the rest of the day. I was sore and brain-dead and two steps away from being grumpy, but alas I pulled myself together and got on with things. Church in the a.m.. And then we spent the afternoon at my in-laws' house for my mother-in-law's birthday. Fortunately, both of my sons are of the driving age, and so my younger son was at the helm as we traveled and I rested in the back of the van. And luckily the van's AC decided to start working again. And so after we enjoyed a good dinner with Julia's folks and we then came home and crashed.

Monday: Jake came over in the morning to help set up mics on my guitar amp, as did a student of mine, Seth McBride. I was pretty worn out when the day started but it was a fun day. And so the set up began. A part of that set up required a spare laptop to talk to my guitar amp. My amp can interface with a computer (with the right hook-ups) which makes it much easier to keep track of knob settings and the like, a job that is normally done by handwritten notes. But the spare laptop I needed to use for this job did not have the current software installed that was needed for the task. So I needed to get online and download the updated programs. Normally that is no big deal, since we have WiFi in the house. However, the older spare laptop decided it didn't want to use WiFi (for reasons unknown...it has always worked before), and so the next step was to reroute a spare Ethernet cable into the studio via the basement in order to plug directly into the old laptop. The route needed was through a slightly modified heater/AC duct that feeds into the living room and studio room. To access that duct I had to remove the furnace grates in the studio and living room and reach down into the duct and pull the cable through to the top. Except that it was dark in the duct and I couldn't see what I was doing. No problem. There's an app for that. So I fired up my iPhone flashlight app and started to look around. The Ethernet cable was missing. Not good. And so I started to pull my arm back out of the duct, at which point I caught the back of my arm on a sharp corner of the duct, which in turn made me release (drop) the iPhone, which in turn slid all the way down into the duct and out of site. Crap. So first I tried to reach around the bend in the duct but couldn't feel the iPhone. So then my younger son brought me a wooden spoon to see if I could drag the iPhone within reach. That didn't work either. So then Jake (who is taller than me and has longer arms) proceeded to do everything I had just done (including the wooden spoon trick) but to no avail. Crap. So then I headed to the basement, found a vent panel on the duct in question, removed the said duct, and was able to just barely reach the missing iPhone. Phew! So now the iPhone was Ok but I still had to find the missing Ethernet cable. It was routed into my boys' shared bedroom. So I yanked it back through the floor, rerouted it to the studio heater/AC duct, and handed the cable to Seth who was still upstairs. And so I hooked up the old spare laptop, and downloaded the needed amp communication software, hooked up the proper cable between the amp and the laptop, and of course nothing worked. The amp was not talking to the old laptop and the old laptop had nothing to say to the amp. Crap. All that work for nothing. And we hadn't even started setting up the mics on the amp to begin recording.

By it was now lunchtime and everyone was getting hungry. And so Jake fired up the stove and started frying up all 43 fish fillets from Saturday night's catch, and that was very good. And our entire house smelled like fried fish. Not so good. But that's the price you pay for fried fish and it was worth it. And so we ate. And then I went back to troubleshoot the problem between the amp and the old laptop. Turned out to be a bad MIDI interface cable. Luckily I had another back-up and things started cooperating. So then we set mics up, ran a gazillion cables between my studio room and the living room (which is where the speakers and mics were...better acoustics in the living room for recording loud guitar amps). And then we ran a couple of test passes of me playing the guitar parts I wanted to record (on 'Marigolds'). And then I went off to work and gave more guitar lessons. And then after lessons I came home and crashed. That was all on Monday.

Tuesday: I made the smart decision to work on something other than FP material for most of the day. I have taken on a side mixing project for someone in London and was wanting to get that rolling. So I worked on that until it was time to go to work to give more guitar lessons. But Tuesday was a nice relaxing day compared to Monday. Uneventful.

Wednesday: I decided to start tracking the guitar parts that we had set mics up for on Monday. Turned out to be a good day for that. My head was back into the game and I got all of the chorus parts recorded for 'Marigolds'. The living room was punishingly loud, but it sounded amazing and I got the exact tones I was after. Then once Julia got home from work, we loaded up the van and met up with Matt and Brittany at the Georgetown Fair (about a 1/2 hour south from our neighborhood). Matt wanted us to go to an ITPA Tractor Pull with he and Brit and it was pretty fun, especially for 'people watching'. I could tell some stories here about some of the 'interesting' people we noticed but will resist the temptation lest I say something that cannot be redacted. But the best part of the tractor pull was how loud the 'modified class' tractors were. It was really friggin' loud. And I mean really friggin' loud. And of course we ate fair food (and of course we paid for it the next day) and had lots of fun. Also of noteworthy mention, the weather was horrendous that night. A rather strong storm system swooped in from the north and nearly rained-out the fair. But what was even crazier is that while we were at the fair, a funnel cloud hit our hometown and did some serious damage within a few blocks of our house. No damage to our house thankfully, but it must've been a close call. Another Phew!

Today (Thursday): I started the day by trying to record lead guitar parts on 'Some Other Year' but never found the tones I after. Bummer. I may go another direction for recording the lead parts rather than the mic'd amp method. Not sure yet. But I can hear the tones in my head and I won't stop until I am able to dial in those tones one way or another. Part of the creative process I suppose. It can be both frustrating and fun at the same time, depending on deadlines or budgets (self-imposed or otherwise), and especially depending on how much sleep you've had the night before. So in between moments of frustration with my bad guitar tones, I took mental/creative breaks by working intermittently on the London stuff. The London stuff saved my sanity and kept me from 'going dark'. Then, in the afternoon, another friend, Mike Jett, came over to sing some back-up vocals (BV's) on 'Some Other Year'. We got through those parts fairly quick and then Jake and Matt came over for dinner and more guitar tracking sessions on 'Marigolds'. That went pretty good as well. And now that everyone has gone home for the night, I am blogging. And I'm about to crash. Again. :-)

And so at the end of the week, lots has happened and much has been accomplished. 'Some Other Year' is nearing completion and only has a few more things to record before the mixdown can proceed. I need to re-record a couple of my vocal parts (for more 'feel' and vibe), and I need to record the lead guitar parts. 'Marigolds' now has all of the bass, drums, and chorus section guitars finished and ready to go. Vocals will begin soon. Hopefully I'll be able to find the right 'clean guitar tones' needed for the rest of 'Marigolds' in short order. They have eluded me thus far. But I am persistent. I will prevail. And the world will thank me for it when they hear it for the first time....

So that's all for now. I approached this blog post a little differently tonight (almost 'stream of consciousness' style...probably because I am tired) and I guess I had a lot to share this time around. Has been another fun-filled week in FP-Land. Hopefully next week I won't lose my iPhone again....

~ Todd

Monday, August 2, 2010

Weekly Update: 8-2-10

So we've made some changes...

The original FP Blog background that we have used since the inception of our blog is no longer available for usage. Not sure why...it is simply no more. Bummer. I really liked the look and the vibe of it. We had to make a few template changes as well as the overall look. Hope you like it. For now I have made a few 'get-us-through-for-the-time-being' changes and things are now rearranged slightly to streamline our cluttered mess. I've been feeling for a while that our old layout was getting more and more crowded with gadgets and whatnot, so perhaps change was in the works anyway?

So now we have a red background. It works for now. I like red for the most part. I even remodeled my studio recently with red walls and it has been quite lovely when sitting in there for long hours. Makes me feel creatively aggressive. And who knows? Maybe the red theme of our blog will have a similar effect on our viewers that makes them aggressively/frequently check us out and aggressively tell everyone they know about this new up-and-coming band from Nowhere, Illinois...

We can only hope...

Also, I do plan on posting new pics and new videos and other exciting new elements to our beloved blog in due time, so keep coming back for more.

The half-week in review....

1) I now have a rather elaborate 6-mic array on my Line6 1/2-stack speaker cab. I do plan on taking some video footage and a ton of pics over the next few days as guitar tracking sessions ensue. To that end, I have mics scattered all over our living room area and even in the front entrance way of our house. I have one mic dangling from a small chandelier and another mic suspended from a ceiling fan. And as expected, the ambient/reflective sounds I am getting from those two mics are very vibey. Funny thing is that the house is now a jumbled mess of wires and music equipment and other recording odds and ends, and even though times like these prove that my obsession with good guitar tones can become a little invasive on my family's living space, everyone just steps around the mic stands and cables and nobody seems to mind the temporary clutter. I love my family...

2) Mike Jett is planning on coming over Thurs afternoon to sing some backing vocal tracks on 'Some Other Year'. That will be fun!

3) I'll be tracking guitars all week this week (and maybe next week?) on 'Marigolds' and 'SOY'. I also need to rework a few minor mixdown issues for a London client's recording that I am assisting with. Busy busy busy...

That's all on the week-and-a-half update. It has been a long and adventurous day and I am in serious need of rest. Time to call it a day and head to bed....

~ Todd