Tuesday, July 14

Album 6: Day 4

I'm writing this two days removed, in the midst of my reentry to the everyday, non-album-recording world.

Goodness do I love being in the studio. The big surprise on day four was the piano. When we arrived at Westend, we didn't even know they had one. But the small upright branded "Young Chang" delivered the goods, once tuned. Or more accurately, Steve Fisk wielded Young Chang like a Shaolin Master of the Keys (he even plucked the piano's harp with his fingers!) as I pretended to be a Pro Tools op. So, unexpectedly, piano is a big part of this record. I got to play some stuff, too.

I also threw down a ton of guitars, and deployed my Eastwood electric mandola on record for the first time! The biggest sound was probably the steel string double of the main guitar line in Goats, Biscuits, Bees. That guitar is my oldest - a custom ordered Martin that predates the theft of all of my guitars when I was in college - and so it's a special thing to use it in such a prominent way.

There's a point on all these records where it comes down to me and Steve. Whether it's the wee hours bouncing rough mixes, or me tentatively dialing in a sound for the claves as the guy who produced some of my favorite records of all time throws down a dub, he's the one there to see the project through after the band splits. We've been working together for seven years to the month. To Steve!

And with that, I become Jesse Kates, Innovation Manager, once again. At least until we resume overdubs with Paul Malinowski in September!

Sunday, July 12

Album 6: Day 3

We finished the basic tracks! It was an exciting morning. Getting the main guitar, bass and drums done for 12 songs in two and a half days of studio time is a Sexy Accident record.

Here's how happy we were!

The afternoon unfortunately involved a few technical glitches that were expertly handled by Mike Miller and Justin Mantooth of Westend. By the end of the day, we had successfully transferred all of our work off of the 16 track MCI and into ProTools.

We've had lots of alumni visits through this record. Our longtime drummer Daniel Torrence stopped by and lent us snares and cymbals. Lavender 3 keyboard player Kristin Smith joined us as we shot bugs during the tape transfer and Steve and I got slap happy in our stress.

Later that evening, my wife Stephanie treated Steve, our friend Laura and Lavender 3 bassist Mark Hamblin to a slow cooker Indian meal at chez Kates. We sat on the porch and listened to cicadas while drinking Mark's homebrew. Delicious in all regards!

Saturday, July 11

Album 6: Day 2

I'm taking a break on the morning of day three to write this post about day two. Right now, the upright piano at Westend is getting tuned so that Steve can lay sweet solo jams all over our musical toast.

Yesterday we finished basic tracks for seven songs! That's a Sexy Accident record. Props to the hardest working rhythm section ever to play Mariokart in a control room.

We made the mistake of starting the day with sneaky, which is one of the most intricate and energetic songs on the record. None of us had warmed up adequately and we ended up beating our heads against the wall with six takes before finally giving up and going to lunch. After completing the basics for four or five other songs, we returned to sneaky and killed it on the first take. It just goes to show that it's important to think through what you play first, second and third in the studio! But not fourth, fuck that shit.

The band enjoyed a delicious lunch at Room 39 with my friend Carly and she, Steve and I went to Anton's Taproom in the evening for dinner and drinks and we had the most delicious pesto with cranberries. Because really this is a culinary tour. Didn't you know?

Songs completed yesterday: She's The Memory You Keep, I Do Or Adieu, Sneaky, Not About Girls, I Need You To Be Real, I'm Going To Love Your New Boyfriend, Drill To The Hull

If all goes to plan, we will wrap basics this morning and begin the transfer off the MCI 16 track into ProTools.

Back at it!

Friday, July 10

Album 6: Day 1

Steve Fisk landed last night after midnight, and we got him to our friend Natasha's place. Thank you, Natasha!

After a good night's sleep, Steve and Ramone went to Westend and got everything going – microphones up and wired, tape machine running, etc. It takes hours to get the kit sounding right, and no effort was spared! We are using 12 mics on the kit, of the 16 tracks we have available on the 2-inch MCI.

Around 2 o'clock, I arrived and Ramone, Steve and I went to eat Italian at Cupini's, a fantastic, northeastern style Italian deli on Westport Road, nearby. Dan met us there and we walked back to the studio to begin tracking.

Normally, it's a good result to get even one complete take of a song on the "setup day", but by the end of the evening and after a break for dinner at 39th St.'s Fric n' Frak, we had three - I'm Going To Love Your New Boyfriend, You're My All Creation, and Goats, Biscuits, Bees.

The MCI 16 track sounds amazing. We've never worked on this tape width before. We are not using any noise reduction, so everything is crisp and dynamic, while benefiting from all the benevolent foibles of tape. It's pretty much impossible to get a bad guitar sound on this setup, especially with Steve at the boards.

Speaking of, it's time to go get him for the start of day two!

Tuesday, July 7

Tomorrow, it begins!

For the fourth time, Steve Fisk lands in Kansas City to record a Sexy Accident album. It'll be great to see him! It's odd to have these two-year gaps between visits with a good friend.

The band is prepared. We had our final rehearsal last night. Dan and Ramone have put hour upon hour into getting everything prim and proper. It's the punchiest the band has ever been!

Sound-wise, this record is poppy. There are one or two ballads, but this is more like a lyrically robust, intricate Kinda Like Fireworks vs. a Lavender 3. The rock is in full effect, but we haven't lost our focus on narrative, quirk or lushness. And everything is compressed and exact, like a poem.

We've also been experimenting with the limited edition physical format for this baby, in partnership with studeo_b Books. Here's the prototype!