Shuyler Session Day 2 – Thursday, February 08, 2007

OK, so we took the Factory by storm today. The Factory is an excellent facility in Vancouver with a great sounding live room and a stellar engineer named Sheldon Zaharko. I always go in there, although Sheldon digs the Edmonton Oilers, which is a damper on our working relationship. Go Canucks. Oh yeah, music. John Raham and I showed up first with drum, guitar, keyboard gear respectively and set er on up. My small car was packed with fun toys and guitars (see pix). It’s a good feeling having everything at your disposal, even if you don’t use it. My bet is that we’ll use everything… we usually do.

For any gear/instrument geeks, here is what we hauled in, that will be used over the next few days:
– weissenborn lap-style guitar
– larivee jumbo acoustic
– national tricone
– epiphone les paul knockoff
– silvertone electric
– dobro
– Carter pedal steel
– Hammertone mandotar
– “portable” pump organ (portable, that is, if you enjoy hauling a 1’x3′ slab of concrete around)

as well as a few amps and a bunch of effects pedals.

John brought his drums, with a few zesty snare/hihat options, and set em up, but the heads sounded dead and sad, so he split to get some new ones. New drum heads can sometimes sound a little “new”, but after a few hours of pounding, they’ll bee a-OK.

Keith is here by now, and has brought his double bass, a longhorn Jerry Jones electric, and a Hoffner (the Paul McCartney bass). The longhorn has autographs by Doc Watson and Geezer Butler on it side by side…. sweet. I’d like to see those 2 onstage side by side. That would be even sweeter!

Chris shows up with a truckload of keyboards. Off the top of my head we have at our disposal:
– the Organizer (an 80’s hammond knockoff that sounds better than most hammond organs we’ve ever used)
– a large leslie cabinet
– clavichord
– micro-moog
– vocoder
– an 80’s string synth
– wurlitzer piano

The Factory also has a sweet grand piano, so we’re covered for sounds.

We get set up and begin rocking…

The concept is to put the band into the main room, but isolate Keith, who will mostly be playing double bass today. I’ve tried recording him in the main room too, but end up getting more drums than bass in the mics, so off to the lab he goes. I’m in the main room, with my amp off in a booth, Chris is set up in the main room beside me with his amps and leslie stashed off in the hallway. John is set up in the main room. So that’s the band. Shuyler gets set up for acoustic guitar and vocals in the control room. We are not really planning on keeping his tracks – he will redo them once the band has played live. Some projects we do keeper live tracks, but this one we’re going to spend a bit more time and track the vocals later out in the main room when everyone else is gone.

Sheldon is incredibly fast. He’s the kind of dude where if I need a short patch cable, I’ll say “sheldon do you have a short patch cable? And by the time I’ve said “cable”, he’s standing behind me with 8 different coloured options. So setup is fast, we’re going for low-tech – 4 mics on the drums, 3 room mics, one on my amp, one for acoustics, a few for the keyboard amps, 3 or 4 for the different basses, and we’re ready to go.

The tunes on the plate today are:
Today’s Remains
Bottle of Wine

I call the tunes, we have a listen to our rehearsal of the tune, decide on instruments to play, tempos, etc and then all go out and get ready. I’m not trying to get just a drum part here or “beds” as they are called. I want to get a cool live performance with some real grease and magic in it. Things will be added and changed, but hopefully nothing will have to be taken out. When you record with 4 people at once, the chances of everyone being thrilled with the entire thing is small, but quite often during a take you’ll pick up on things not going perfectly or something, but when you listen back to it and can take it all in with the instruments, the imperfections often become pretty cool.

“Rivals” goes well – we do about 5 takes of it, and pretty much nail a good take of it on the last one. On we go. “Today’s Remains” is a little trickier and we do a few more versions before it really comes together. At this point, we have a little break, eat some yummy food and then get back at it.

Sheldon is a big Dukes of Hazzard fan, and we get into an argument about the relation between Uncle Jesse and Daisy… Just what are those duke boys up to? The internet is consulted. 3 cheers for wireless. No answers… somehow, we end up with a picture of Daisy Duke up on the screen and she is used as motivation/inspiration. Let’s go do one for Daisy, boys!

On we go to Bottle of Wine. We do a few versions, but it’s not quite funky enough. (funky in a levon helm kind of way, not bootsy collins). John switches up the drum patterns a bit, after Shuyler makes a suggestion and we have it cracked. It’s getting near the end of our day, so we get into “Windswept”.

I’m encouraging some weirdness on this one, and Chris has a nice vocoder idea. It’s an effect that is triggered by a vocal or other source of sound, but the notes are played by a different instrument. Robotic and cool. I plug my weissenborn into a delay pedal and the “Buzz Bomb” a fuzz/modulator pedal that my friend Chris invented. The only problem is that it makes the guitar completely uncontrollable – some notes disappear and some come screaming out of the amp… I’ll have to just fly blind.

John plays drums with chopsticks… need I say more?

We get a really cool take after a few passes. Lots of weird, zany sounds.

A great day. 4 tunes down. We pack up and split.

I’ll post photos and sounds in a few minutes.

OK, here they are. Sound files for 2 songs. Keep in mind that what you’re hearing is not even roughly mixed. This is exactly how it went down live, so levels of instruments are a little whacky. Vocals are low as they were done as guide vocals.

Bottle of Wine

for photos of today, go here

see ya!


~ by stevedawson on October 6, 2008.

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