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Friday, March 4, 2011

Our Changing Times....FP Update: 3-4-11

Here's the Latest....

1) Jake is 'kicking butt and taking names' on his bass tracking sessions for 'Rabbit Hole'. Matt and I took more than a few liberties and artistic twists and turns when recording/producing the drum tracks. During pre-production and rehearsals we wrote the basic arrangement and skeletons of the song, but we only worked out the generalities, namely to allow Matt a sense of direction and vibe for what he would play during the actual recording sessions but without trying to micromanage his every move. We wanted Matt to have room to ebb and flow while recording. And that mindset paid off in spades where those drums are concerned. The drum tracks are stunning. (Just wait until you hear this one folks...) So once those drums were finished, the challenge then went from Matt's shoulders over to Jake's shoulders. Again, Jake's bass parts were merely roughed out in general ideas during the pre-production/song-writing stage. The plan was to have Jake then play off of Matt's recorded parts, which means the details for Jake's parts now need to be worked out under the microscope for the recording process. It sounds easy, but in reality every little kick, snare, tom, and cymbal accent that Matt did 'on the fly' needs to be learned and memorized by Jake in order for him to sync up his bass parts properly. And that takes a lot of hard work and focus and especially time. But as they say, 'that's what separates the men from the boys'...

2) 'Marigolds' is slowly getting finished, with an emphasis on 'slowly'. I just don't have the time or brain to plow away at it at a breakneck pace, at least not without compromising the end results. This, much to the chagrin of our detractors and naysayers, is the supreme advantage of being self-produced, and we love the freedom that comes from doing everything ourselves. Love it or hate it, the waiting between each song is part of the process for us, at least at this point in the game. Granted, for our listeners, getting to listen to a finished song is the best part, but for us the whole creation process is king...

3) Matt's wife Brittany is expecting their first baby any day now. They are naming her Willow, and everything has been going smoothly for Brittany and the baby. And of course, many of us are expectantly waiting for the mass text from Matt telling us 'It is time'....

4) Jake is getting married in the fall. I'll likely make mention of this from time to time as things develop, but currently he and his fiancé Sarah are in the planning stages of everything, so not only does Jake have a lot on his plate with his work, side-job gigs as a freelance news photographer, and being a bass player extraordinaire in an upcoming rock band, but he's tying the knot in a matter of a few short months. Lots going on with Jake....

5) I'm in the process of making some significant gear changes over the next couple of months. To start off, as I've mentioned in previous updates, Vibrance Guitars builder Craig Collins is building me two custom handmade guitars. Initially I had plans of buying just one guitar, but as his first run of seven guitars has evolved and progressed, I made the decision a couple of months ago to actually buy two guitars from Craig. Likely there will be more down the road as more designs become available....(it never ends for gear hounds). But Craig has graciously asked for my input and suggestions throughout the entire building and designing process and I have been more than happy to oblige. Craig thinks that these two guitars will be finished in the next 4-6 weeks (give or take of course), much of that time being needed to properly apply the oil finish to his liking. And then there will be a ton of pictures....

Secondly, I've recently been heading towards smaller wattage guitar amp designs. I own a pair of 100 watt Line6 tube 1/2-stacks which I have done pretty well with thus far for recording and rehearsals, but I keep feeling unsatisfied with the clean tones I've been getting with those rigs. So I have been on the prowl for a while now to remedy that situation by acquiring a better-suited amp design. As it turns out, what I ended up buying was a small one-speaker, 20 watt amp combo made by Swart Amplifiers. It's called a Swart Atomic Space Tone (AST for short) and it is quite an amp. The clean tones are what I've been looking for, and inadvertently I've also found some of the best sounding 'crunch' tones I've ever heard, simply by cranking this little amp up to around 7 (it goes to '11'). It's a simple design, all hand-made here in the States by Michael Swart himself, and it just sounds fabulous. Small but mighty.

And then of course I've added a few pedals to my arsenal. If you know anything about most guitar players you're already aware that the only things that we like more than guitars, amps, and gadgets is even more guitars, amps, and gadgets. Especially effects pedals. Pedals are a (relatively) cheap fix for finding new sounds and ideas, and some of the most sought after effects pedals are overdrive, distortion, and fuzz pedals. And lately I've been on a pedal spree. I just picked up a Fulltone PlimSoul, an Xotic EP Booster, and a used Seymour Duncan TweakFuzz, all of which fall into the OD/dist/fuzz categories. Talk about good times! A guy like me could just shut himself in a room for a while and get lost in the different tones that are possible. Some folks may be bored with this sort of gear info, but trust me when I say that these toys (er...'tools') will inspire a lot of new FP material and will help take my performances up a few notches. These new guitars, amps, pedals, etc are all a new direction for me, kind of like if a Formula One race car driver switched over to NASCAR. To some people a race is just a race, but to the driver the car changes everything. I'm not sure which race car category my new gear would fall into (metaphorically speaking of course), but whichever it is, I like it...

That's all for now. I actually made a new post within a week of the last one! (Yesssss....) Will post more as things develop!

Thanks for checking in....

~ Todd

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