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Recording Journal: Day 1

I started the day in a hurry. I hadn't prepared the equipment I was bringing, so I had to scramble to leave on time. Finding cables that have been tucked away for years wasn't an easy task. Anyway, I collected all the necessary equipment, and left only a few minutes behind schedule.

I let my phone take over the navigation duties, and it got me close, but that’s all. I had to do some backtracking to find the driveway to the studio. The driveway surprised me. Trees cover the the sky as soon as you pull in, so the light immediately changes. It felt like I’d entered a different world. To further add to that feeling, several horses walked up on each side of the driveway. They were so close that I could have touched them if I opened the window and stretched out my arm. It was pretty surreal.

Once I arrived at the studio, Stephen helped me unload my gear, and then showed me around the studio. It was pretty sweet. He built it himself. It definitely has a homemade vibe, but that makes it fun, I think.

I played him some of the demos that had changed since he last heard them, so we could start thinking about how to approach them in the space. He showed me was a guitar he’d strung that had the secondary strings from a 12 string guitar on a 6 string. It had a specific name, but I can’t remember what it was. I think it’ll be fun to use on a song or two to add some depth.

Our goal for the day was to start tracking the drums in the evening. We decided it’d be better to go with a drummer that’s played more recently than when I recorded my last album (which is the last time I played). It’ll suck a little not being able to say I recorded all the parts on this album, but it’d suck a lot more taking forever to get the drums to a mediocre level, at best.

We started playing around with different drums sounds to get an idea of what direction we wanted to go. We also slowly started setting up mics. He has a really cool snare drum that has a marching band head on the bottom. I really like how punchy marching band snares are.

While he was setting up drum mics, I restrung my guitar. I wasn't planning on tracking any guitar, which is why I did it then, instead of earlier. As I was restringing, Stephen discovered a new leak in the vocal booth. There were leaks that he patched earlier in the week; this was a new one he discovered. There was a pretty severe wind storm that wreaked havoc on the studio somewhat recently. He’s still trying to sort stuff out from that. He cleaned out the vocal booth, and set it up to dry out before we need to use it. He also went up on the roof to patch the leak.

We decided to break for lunch around 3. There’s a tasty pizza place called Fultano’s that’s only 10-15 mins away from the studio, and we thought that would be nice. I went to pick it up while Stephen finished setting up the mics.

I got lost on the way back from Fultano’s and had to use my phone to find the studio again.

While we ate, we watched YouTube and listened to different artists. Some of the artists we watched were St. Vincent (particularly the Guitar Moves episode), San Fermin, Lucius, The Dolchnakov Brigade, and Moon Hooch.

After we finished eating, we had about an hour and a half before the drummer was due to arrive. We decided to track some background vocals that didn't need any special clarity, which was important because the vocal booth was out of order due to the leak. The vocals had three parts. We did the lows first. That went pretty smoothly. After that, we did the highs, which went even smoother than the lows. Around this time, Stephen got a message from the drummer. Apparently the drummer got quite sick, and had a 103 fever (yikes). Needless to say, he wasn't going to be able to make it today.

That sucked, but what can you do? Stephen and I were kinda bummed, but we wanted to finish the part we started. It was time for the middle part. That was rough. I had to play along at first to get in the right spot. I’m not a strong singer. After finding the spot, it went pretty well.

We decided to hold off on tracking anything else until we had drums since it’s the backbone of the songs. We did set up the files so they were ready to go though. That took a little while.

At the end, we only managed to track one part, but we still accomplished a fair amount of stuff that we would have needed to do anyway, so it wasn't a lost day or anything.

When I got home, I got a message from Stephen saying the drummer was available to record Wednesday evening and Thursday. It sounds like it’ll be a New Year’s recording party.