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Recording Journal: Day 17

We started recording in the afternoon today. It's rare that we record on Saturday. Normally we do Sunday, but we flipped that this week.

When I arrived Stephen was eating a burrito. We listened to a friend of his cover someone else's cover while he finished the burrito. We talked a little about where to start. After deciding on a song, we discovered that we couldn't record that one because I thought I'd sent over the TABs, but I hadn't, and I didn't want to spend the time to relearn what I wrote at that point, so we moved onto another song. Oh yeah, I only have a few of my guitar parts memorized for the album. I change them up somewhat regularly as I'm writing them, so it's better for me to just relearn what I wrote once I'm ready to record. That means I need to send Stephen the TABs though, and this time I didn't.

We started with Track 2. We'd done a little work on it yesterday. We decided to lay down the rhythm tracks. It took a bit to set up the amp with the sound we wanted, but we were able to do it. We used my Schecter for this since the song is in drop D, and my Schecter is set up for that. It all went smoothly with the exception of the verse, which took a lot of time to figure out.

In the demo I created the verse by cutting up guitar sounds and pasting them where they needed to go. This gave it a very clean and robotic feel, which I thought the part demanded. Stephen likes a very human feel. I played through it a few times, and Stephen thought I'd be able to play it in a way that would be cool. While flattering, he was wrong. I really felt like part of the reason the part was cool in the demo was because of the choppy nature and going to complete silence during the breaks. After explaining what I thought would be impossible if I played it we came to a compromise. What Stephen liked about me playing it is that I hit the notes differently when I'm playing through, so we decided to use multiple hits of each note rather than the same hit repeated. We added in small breaks between the notes to make them feel a little less human, and we cut to complete silence during the real breaks. It was a tedious process, and I was feeling kinda burnt out recording the song, but Stephen had me test doubling the guitar with his strat, and it sounded great, so we doubled the guitar. We decided to hold off on chopping up the verse part though since it takes a while to do.

After doubling the guitar I was ready to move onto a different song. We still needed some rhythm tracks on Track 4 with the amps, so we tried that. We spent a long time working toward different sounds, but they all sounded really lousy to me, so at a certain point I asked Stephen to pull up a track where I knew I loved the guitar sounds. That also sounded lousy, so it was clear that my ears were tired, so we held off doing any more real amp stuff. With virtual amps, you can change the sound after the fact without issue. That's not the case with real amps.

We moved to Track 1 for some guitar in the breakdown. Weirdly, all the sounds we tested here sounded great. Recording the guitar here went pretty smooth once we decided how to approach the dynamics.

After that, I was kind of thinking we were done, but Stephen decided to have me track the intro guitar part. I wasn't expecting to do it today, but it was feeling pretty good, so I figured, "why not?" It's the first thing people will hear on the album, so it needs to be solid. I think we got some real nice takes of it, so I'm psyched. I tried playing a harmony to it, but, because of the bends I do, it wasn't syncing up as well as it should. Luckily Stephen had the idea to use a harmonic pedal he has. We can use the pedal on the original take, and automate it to hit the harmonies we want. Because it's on the original, it moves with all the bends and such, and it sounds pretty sweet. We may decide to go a different route with that, but it was sounding pretty good the way we had it.

We stopped after that. The plan is to record later on next week, maybe Thursday or Friday.