Friday, November 20, 2015

Looking Back

I'm a pretty reflective person, but I often don't take time to really give myself credit for accomplishments. I'm a "what have you done for me lately" kind of person when it comes to dealing with myself. I struggle and beat myself up during the struggle, then after the struggle is off I rarely give myself credit. I'm on to the next thing to beat myself up for.

Sometime in the next six weeks I am going to wrap up the Breeders tribute recording project. I have 6 songs left to go of the 80 total in the project.  I'm trying to take a moment to really let myself reflect on the accomplishment. I'm pretty sure I'm the only person in the world who knows all the work that went into it...or cares. An outsider listening to the recordings probably would think "meh, those aren't so good." It's true. They aren't. I'm not a great singer or player or recording engineer or producer. And that's not the point. I still sat down, listened to each song a billion times, figured out all of the parts (with or without the help of internet resources, more often than not without), learned to play them all (often on instruments that I don't really play), recorded them all, and mixed it down. All in a about 20 months. The history of recording is littered with people who couldn't manage to learn and record 10 songs on one instrument in 20 months. The scope of what I did... in my free moments outside my day job, playing in 6 bands, and maintaining a long-distance sort of astounding. I'm gonna own that god dammit.

I learned a bunch about playing my instruments, but this post is going to focus on what did I learn about recording...

1. Acoustic guitars sound different recorded live from a room versus plugged in direct. They don't really sound like acoustic guitars plugged in directly. I'm sure you can buy pre-amps and various conditions that can MAKE them sound like acoustic guitars when plugged in, but if you can manage it...just play them live in a room with good mics. It will be better.

2. Sets of microphones marketed as "drum mics" aren't worth buying. I mean, maybe if you bought really expensive ones. But I tried using a middle-of-the-road set and decided that my basic SM58s sounded way better. You don't need special drum mics. To some extent a good specialized mic for the kick isn't a terrible idea, but I did ok just with a 58.

3. Time delay on vocals = the cheap man's reverb. Don't abuse it.

4. Record the loudest signal you can get before clipping/distortion sets in...then dial down the sound in the mix. It is really hard to make things louder and still sound good.

5. My rig didn't take to #4 very well. It distorted easily, especially with bass frequencies. I had a pretty narrow dynamic range to work in.

6. If possible, get the meta-data correct on your first export. You probably won't go back and fix it later and it doesn't always take anyway. Having your recording with the same meta-data as the backing track (in my case the original song) is bad for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that it is hard to find your recording on your computer.

7. I didn't use post-effects in my recording setup at all and very little editing other than cut/paste and the occasional fade-out or dynamic adjustment. I never figured out how to punch in correctly, so everything was its own new track even when I recorded over parts I'd messed up the performance for. This actually worked out ok. It probably made my files larger than they had to be. But there's a ton that I don't know. As with most things in my life, I did the best I could with the tools and skills that I had. It helped that The Breeders don't tweak their recordings much with digital bullshit after the fact.

8. For a long time I really wanted a rig that would let me record multiple tracks at a time. The one I have let's me only do one track at a time. I ended up recording drums, for instance, by running them through a mixer and sending the whole thing to one track. This meant I couldn't edit individual drums and had to get the balance right on the mixer. This was ok for me. I think where I am coming down on the multiple track at a time thing is that I really don't need that for recordings I do of myself. It would be nice when recording a full live band together. I did a recording of a full band using the mixer method, and it wasn't the best. We managed but it would be better to be able to tweak the individual parts in that situation. That said, the cost of a true 8 to 8 setup or 16 to 16, for instance is probably prohibitive. So you still end up mixing somethings a 8 to 4 or 16 to 4. I guess it would be cool to at least split vox, guitar, bass, drum...but I just don't think I'm going to be doing that enough to warrant the investment. I don't like working with other people on recordings enough.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

COL, Frequency, 11/17/2015

We were a last minute add for this my first gig with the Cats.

1. It rained.
2. The show started an hour late
3. One of the other bands didn't show up...cancelled via comment on the FB event page a few hours beforehand #classy
4. Power was dirty, buzzing, and shocking JC through mic.
5.  TLT was having amp/guitar issues.
6. Stage sound was a mush.
7. It was just us and the touring band watching each other's sets pretty a half dozen friends from other local groups that stopped by for our set.

Welcome to the rock and the roll.

Setlist to come.

Monday, November 16, 2015

TD cd release Mickey's, 11/14/2015

We played with German Art Students and The Moguls (who were lovely, but for future reference, quite loud).

We played well. There was a good, but not huge, crowd. People told us we sounded good...improved...and that they didn't miss the bass at all. TLT took some photos and video that may or may not have come out. It was a nice night. My car battery died, but under best possible circumstances.

Sent It
Hold U
Take Me Away
Fire Burns
Easy Life
Caw Caw

The entire show in video format.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

CJ as The Scars Freakin' Halloweekend

CJ (plus friend Roscoe) was The Cars (The Scars). We were awesome. What can I say? Brought down $680 with a sold out crowd at HNS. We MAY actually have this tribute band shit down finally.
Good Times Roll
You Might Think
Shake It Up
Let's Go
Moving in Stereo
You're All I've Got Tonight
My Best Friend's Girl
Bye Bye Love
Just What I Needed

Here's a recording of the entire show:

Oh yeah, we played one song live on the radio acoustic the night before the show's RS at studio with friends from the Fleetwood Mac Trib.

And the show proper...

SVFD LRC 10/25/2015

We played LRC

I Will Survive

SVFD at Freq 11/3/2015

This was a last minute pickup gig at Freq with The Jukebox Romantics
The Beast of Bray Road (one of these was very loud but I don't know which, probably Beast). We were kind of wildly under-prepared...yet played great.

thigh high
mr smiley
I don't love
i will survive