Friday, April 24

Album 3 Recording Diary: Day 1

Yesterday I picked up our producer, Steve Fisk from the airport. It was around 8pm, and we kicked off his trip to our fair city with a band meal at Blue Koi! I ran into Natasha and a friend of hers, and then Steve and the rest of the Sexy Accident got to know one-another.

After dinner, I drove Steve out to the Black Lodge. We couldn't figure out how to get into the apartment (we knew it involved an untrustworthy set of stairs, but couldn't remember which) and after some fumbling about while using our cell phones as flashlights, we gave up and called David Chutka, who got us squared away. Steve got situated and I headed back to KC.

I got home around 11pm. I had been so excited the day before that I hadn't slept well, and so I started to crash. I figured I had all the time in the world to get a good night's sleep before we were to begin at 10:30 the next day, but I went to bed early anyway. Unfortunately, sleep was fleeting. I woke up at about 2:30am and just couldn't fall back to sleep. I was too excited! Exhausted, but excited. I couldn't get my brain to stop. So at about 5am, I found myself at the local Sun Fresh buying some Valerian to help me sleep. I had to wait for their cash registers to reboot (this apparently happens just before 5) before I could check out, and I got home and back in bed by about 5:30. I woke again at 7. Then at 8:30. So I basically got a completely garbage night of sleep. And I wasn't the only one. Pat Padgett (our bass player) had a similar experience.

So at 10:30 this morning we all congregated at the Black Lodge. When I got there, Daniel and Steve were already hard at work setting up the drum kit and positioning the sixteen microphones that Steve would use to track the drums. At about noon, after we had set up, the three guitarists took a trip to Lawrence while Steve and Daniel continued working on getting the drums to sound right. We ate at the Aladdin Cafe, and stopped off at Mass St. Music where the gracious staff let us rent a stunning 5F6-A Tweed Bassman clone for the week for the extremely reasonable sum of $80. This amp will augment our arsenal of Chad's Vox AC15, my Dr. Z RxES and my Silverface Champ. We've already used it on one of the songs.

At about 2:00, we got back to the studio. Steve and Daniel were wrapping up work on the drum kit, so Chad and Pat and I began working on our guitar tones, checking intonation, etc. We set up such that our guitar amps were in the Black Lodge's three isolation rooms and the drum kit was in the main room. We kept the isolation room doors open, however, so we could all stand together and avoid using headphones during the group takes. This makes everything much more comfortable and natural-feeling. Headphones can be pretty sterile. They're fine for overdubs, but Mr. Fisk is wise enough to realize that they kind of kill the vibe of a group playing together.

At about 2:30, we took our first take of our first song - I Tried Again. We nailed it on the first try, which felt great. There were maybe one or two tiny edits made, but it was a great take. Next we moved on to Merry Christmas, which also went down swimmingly on the first pass. My guitar part required a little help, but nothing major. Chad played Pat's Strat into the Vox.

Next came You're Out of Luck, which was a much more ornery beast. The song involves a lot of repetitive sections with the only differentiation coming from the vocals, so I sang a scratch track live while the rest of the band played their instruments so everyone could keep track of where we were in the song structure. Pat had a question about the song arrangement and I gave him the wrong answer. It took us three tries, but we eventually got the perfect drum take. Pat fixed a few bass flubs, I put down my guitar part in 1.5 passes separately (using headphones) and Chad more or less sailed through without trouble. Chad used the Bassman, but we realized we missed the awesome snarly harshness of the AC15 at times, so we put it back in in a few spots.

Finally, we moved on to I Kind of Want to Be With You, which took four takes to get right. But man, was it worth it. Each take was better than the last, and when we finished the fourth, not only did we have just the right feel, but almost everyone had played their parts absolutely perfectly. When you hear this one on the album, excepting the extra instrumentation that we'll add on later to round things out, you'll be hearing what we sounded like this evening in Eudora, KS. How satisfying!

By the time we finished playing back the tunes and double-checking things, it was 8:30pm. We had gotten four tracks worth of basics down in six hours, which is quite speedy. Steve was pleased, and up for doing more, but Pat and I were exhausted from lack of sleep so we called it a night and headed home. But not before I gave Steve the keys to my Corolla so he could get around out in Eudora!

And now it's a perfectly stunning Friday evening. The weather is flawless. 71 and just right humidity-wise. I'm probably the only person within a 10 mile radius on a computer right now. But all of my friends are either occupied with other plans or out of town, and I need to sleep, so I probably won't be heading out. Maybe for a quick walk, but nothing major.

So that was our first day. More tomorrow!

- Jesse Kates / Download Kinda Like Fireworks for FREE