Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More L.A.

This has been an up and down week.  On Thursday, after four days of valiant efforts, we decided that everything we did at Ocean Way was unusable.  We were intending to keep just the drum and bass tracks and overdub everything else when we got back to Kevin's, but in trying to re-record the piano, it became obvious that this just wasn't coming across right - it all felt stilted and rigid.  Our band lives and dies on "vibe," so instead, we all set up in Kevin's personal studio - a very impressive room in and of itself - and spent two days trying to nail entirely live takes, with Rod going for keeper vocals as well.  We're really intent on this record feeling like a live show, albeit without all the hair and spurs.  We stayed at it for three more days, landing keeper takes of "Full Growin' Man" and "Don't Break the Needle"...before finding out that those takes were also unusable - the bass guitar was bleeding into Rod's vocal mic too much, and my cymbals were overpowering the drum track (which has been a recurring problem since we've been out here).  Needless to say we were all gutted - 11 days in L.A. and nothing but boxes of unusable tape to show for it.

But we rallied gamely.  Kevin devised a third set-up whereby Rod could record a scratch vocal while playing his piano (easier said than done without bleed) and if a cymbal screamed, I was getting caned.  We rose above the disappointment and banged out all five songs again on Tuesday, and those sound ridiculously good right now.  Billy is downstairs getting ready to start guitars...I'll feel confident when it's entirely finished.  

(A minor tragedy in all this is that Zach and I had to give up tickets to see a live taping of Bill Maher on Friday, as well as The Price is Right on Monday.  Could you really see Zach showing up for that and NOT getting called to come on down??)

But while the recording got bogged down, one area that has been picking up steam steadily is the industry response that's been drummed up simply by inviting people down to the studio and playing them the demos that we recorded over the holidays.   It's been a very L.A. situation - one well-placed person takes a liking to you, and before long everyone is sniffing around to make sure they're not getting scooped.  Since we've been here, we've had a meeting nearly every day, and today we've had two.  It's all very vague and superficial at the moment, and half of the people who show up on our doorstep have never heard a note of ours - they just know that other people have been here.  The main thrust of these things seem to be the label trying to gauge how together our shit is before they decide whether to take it to the higher-ups.  But they've all been going well - tomorrow we're having our first follow-up meeting downtown with some folks who came and met us last week, and I have high hopes that this leads to an expensive lunch of some kind.

Other than that, I've been enjoying walks to the library in the morning, the hot tub in the evening, and I've settled into a wonderful late-night routine of milk-and-cookies and the New York Times, cover-to-cover, just before bed.  Zach impressed upon me "Slaughterhouse Five" and I'll probably start that today.

Oh yeah, we just heard today we'll almost certainly be playing with The Drive-by-Truckers at Bourbon Street in Baltimore on June 3rd (a week from today!).  Its a new club down by Sonar.  See you there...?


Jeff Conlin said...

Hey man - what can I say? Who am I to say anything? All I know is - you motherfuckers have soul. And that goes farther than anything else, especially on this here Pacific coast. Soul didn't ever make it out here on its own (it didn't have to), and there's no cultural legacy here of hard times and harder music. So bring it with everything you've got and let the just let the Universe do His bidding. Those that can understand will, and those that won't will waste your time accordingly. Either way, you're doing what you truly love, and that's more than most folks this side of the Appalachians can say. Word-

Jackie said...

I think a live album is the way to go with you guys as well. Much like my darlings, the Avetts, you all are able to hold your own on a recoding but really blow people's minds live. I'm not sure if many other bands can brag about so many consistently present fans when albums are years apart.

Erin said...

I approve of the trips to the library and the reading of "Slaughterhouse Five." That being said, it's totally a dude's book.
Has one of the best lines ever, though - she had "legs like an Edwardian grand piano."