Tuesday, April 01, 2008

My evening with the Grand Master

Hello. happy Tuesday. as previously posted, last night i had my first real studio experience. it is a project that is funded and created by Brian Fisher. Brian was the guitarist transformed into bass player in my last functioning band, known for a short time as (man i hate this name....)Fourplay (yes i know there was a Grammy award winning contemporary jazz band with this same name. Seriously i tried telling them this but no one cared. oh well) so shortly after that broke up Brian and i continued talking randomly to keep touch and hope another band opportunity came along. well talking with Brian one day he said that he had written some material and wanted to record it and wanted to have me play drums on it. it was a paying session so i was thrilled. my first paying musical performance in a while. when Jeff and i were in More Than Song we had one that we never got paid for but before that is was a long dry spell. Blank Slate was the real cash cow. sad but true. so after 2 reschedules, we met last night at Grand Master Studios in South Bend on Miami to "lay down" some tracks (that's cool lingo)

i got there about 5:30 and in the pouring rain started to unload in this dark decrepit alley. it took a good 8 trips to get it all inside this dim lit studio but i got it. no help. drummers. why would anyone want to play these. you never get help and you always have a ton of crap. and it heavy. i should also tell you that i had to park at the bottom of a hill and i had a broken leg but i think that you would figure me out so never mind.

i met Chris, the owner, engineer, musician himself. very nice guy. he was very easy to work with. Brian has dealt with him before so it was not like nobody knew anyone. i got my gear all opened up and started setting up. Chris came around and hooked up mics and we talked gear while we were all getting ready. this again was not my first experience recording, but my first in a real studio and with an engineer who knew how he wanted to hook up mics.

Kick drum, AKG D112
Tom 1, AKG C418
Tom 2, Sennheiser 421
Snares, 2 Shure SM 57's
Overheads, 2 Shure SM 81's

While i did that Brian set up in the same room his amp and a mic stand for a "scratch vocal" that is a guide for what he is singing but they will then rerecord his singing which is good because it was shaky after practicing the night before. After spending 20 minutes working on problem with Brian's Fender amp and some seriously wicked buzzing we got it to a reasonable level and kenw that the sound would get covered in the ambient noise of the drums so we moved on to "dialing in" the drums. this is a LONG and BORING process. Long. Boring. End of story. Chris says okay. start with the kick drum. so you start hitting it. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM............ about 7 or 8 minutes later he says okay, "tom 1" so you start that. BOOM, BOOM, Boom........ and you go around the kit to Tom 2, snare, cymbals. then to do patterns just the 2 toms back and forth and then drums all together. then it happens....FULL KIT. after all that, then we went back and dampened stuff and took out the overtones, but after a good 45 minutes, we were ready to go. So i look and it's 8:30. Three hours and not one note has been recorded. I knew then that we were going to be there a while.

Honestly, during the recordings there isn't much to tell. Most of the songs went pretty well. we had six total. 4 that we had done a fair amount of work on in practices and 2 that he sprung on me the night before. i had 2 snare that i was using so we did 3 of the original songs and 1 new one, then i switched snares and did the last 2. we did most of the songs in 2 takes and then went back and re did a couple sections and "punchedethem in" in place of other sections. each song Brian and i would play the song first time just getting familiar with each song and then Chris would set the click track as we were playing so when we were done, then we would take our first cut at the song. sometimes we would have to start up again to get the click fixed up again. One song we had to retake the whole thing cause it seemed slow after we listened back. Brian has one song that has some 3/4 measures in a 4/4 song so that was fun listening to a click that didn't match up with your mental counting. it wa probably the best one we did.

Pro Tools is a very neat program. after every song when we thought that we were fairly well finished we would go back into the booth and listen. We were really only worried about drums last night, not vocals or guitar so that was nice so i could focus on what Brian wanted. We would listen and Brian would want something or and extra hit or beat somewhere and Chris would just copy and paste a note in that spot. Chris was very good with the program. i was surprised to see he was using a Windows machine and not an Apple PowerBook or something. Apple is the more popular option but either way, it worked and worked well. He had a very nice Soundcraft mixing console and plenty of other fancy rack processors. i think that the board was a TS12.

So at about 11:30 i started tearing down and got paid. i headed home and crawled into bed at 12:27. Up at 5:50 and here i am at work. all in all, i had a good time great experience and i really would like to do it more on someone else's dollar. i look forward to hearing the final outcome. Later.

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