< Back to Journal

Recording Journal: Day 21

Before arriving I texted Stephen that I was thinking we should start with vocals again this time, and he said he'd have some tea waiting for me, which was nice of him. He mentioned that I should try some throat coat tea because it's good for singers. He said he usually has some on hand, but he was out of it currently. I decided to stop at the Rite Aid and grab some on my way. I got the last box they had on the shelf.

When I arrived, we made the tea and decided which song to start with. We settled on Track 8. Stephen had already moved the comfy chair into the vocal booth and set up the mics, so we were able to get started quick. The tea was quite tasty, but I wasn't sure it made that much of an impact on my voice.

The recording went pretty smooth for the chorus vocals. We pretty much just did a bunch of takes for each time the chorus comes up. The plan was to take the best version of each word or phrase and wind up with a take of superhuman quality. Well, that's what might happen if we did that with a great singer, but, since I was singing, we wound up with what sounds like a solid take from a solid singer. Before we reached the last chorus though, my mouth and throat started feeling really dry, and I wasn't sure if that was due to the tea drying it out to an extent it wouldn't have been normally, or if that's how it normally is, and the tea's effect had worn off, so it was more noticeable now. Either way, I realized I needed more tea.

Stephen got me set up with a new cup quickly. I had some fun sipping the tea close to the mic and listening to it in the headphones. At some point Laura had entered the listening booth because she told me to gargle with it. That seemed like it might be fun. I mean it's in "El Scorcho" after all. So I did it, but totally goofed at the end. I don't know if I like turned me head or breathed in a weird way or what, but it made me start coughing, which, as you might expect, was phenomenal for my vocal performance. I think Laura and Stephen got a kick out of it too. Anyway, it took like 3 or so takes for me to get back to where I was before. The tea did seem to make a positive impact on how my voice felt.

Once we finished the chorus vocals, I went into the listening booth so we could start piecing it together. Before recording the vocals, I'd made midis of the vocal melody so we knew how it was supposed to go. As I was making it, I wasn't totally sure what two notes in the beginning were supposed to do. In the demo, I sang a C then a B, but when I put that in the midi, it sounded odd, so I made them both Cs. When we listened back to the recordings I did today, we noticed that I sang two Cs around half the time, and I sang two Bs the other half. They both sounded pretty cool, so Stephen and I weren't sure what to do. Well, the chorus is one line repeated twice, so Stephen thought the first time could be Cs and the second could be Bs. It sounded cool when he set it up, but I was hesitant until he found a take where I did that naturally. Somehow that made it okay to me, so that's what we went with.

After we finished building the chorus takes, I was still feeling pretty good, so Stephen and I thought we should try doing some more vocals on the track, after making some more tea, of course. We went for the breakdown next, since it's closer in sound to the chorus than the verses. We went with the same idea of recording a bunch of takes then selecting the best parts of them. That went reasonably smooth. It took a bit of time, but we didn't encounter any real issues.

We decided to continue working on the vocals and try to take down the verses. The verses for this song are somewhat of a departure from the rest of them on the album. They're sung just a little above a whisper. We tried a couple takes before Stephen had the idea to use another mic, which helps capture more of the vocal character when singing quietly. It made a pretty significant difference, I think. Around this time I changed the color of the light in the booth from an orange to a red. I thought it might put me in a slightly different mood while I sang. I think it might have, but I'm not sure. Either way, we wound up with some takes both of us were pleased with.

After that, I returned to the listening booth. We spent the rest of the day building the best versions of the breakdown and verses. It's a pretty major accomplishment for me to take down a lead vocal in a single session. I think the verses being quiet helped with that some, but I'll be sticking with that tea as well. Hopefully the vocal success continues. We're going to try for some brief sessions during the week for vocals. Tentative plans are to start on Tuesday.