Thursday, May 27, 2010

zen-like period

i'm having a weirdly calm period. i don't understand it. i've noticed when i get angry i get over it very quickly. i'm not going to question it, i'm just going to enjoy it. my theory will naturally be that whatever it is i'm doing to cope with my situation is working and i should keep doing it. i am holding the 'care less' campaign responsible for this unexpected and sudden shift. it must be working.
i got my food handlers' certificate yesterday too, so we shall see about this 'raise' happening. i'm a tad skeptical that anyone's going to be organized enough to actually have it added unless i pester and needle. or just get another job. they didn't pay for our time while we were actually in the class. pretty much everyone else in the class WAS being paid for being there and they used to pay people for their time while they were in the class. i'm just a touch put off now, as if i weren't already. the irony being that i felt a certain obligation to stick around once the class had been paid for. it's getting to the point that i'm thinking the owner did it so that i'd be able to get a new and better job.
right now i'm listening to the live version of 'disintegration' that's up on the 'disintegration' microsite- it's all of the tracks from the album played live in dallas on the prayer tour. pretty cool that they played the whole thing in one night and even cooler that they recorded it so nicely and coolest of all that it never leaked until just now. i was actually hoping that the entire show would be posted as the only good sounding prayer tour boot i have is that 'parched corn' one from mountain view, california. i guess that the fourth night at wembley is a good one as well- it's a little long, even for me (three hours and forty-five minutes).
i entered some kind of ridiculous trivia contest to win a cd copy of the reissue. this has put my wormy little plan on hold, unfortunately as if i hadn't done that i could buy a digital copy of the reissue now and then the vinyl when it comes out rather than both at once- about a $45 blow to my pocket book. initially i was going to balk at the vinyl as i already have a copy of the original vinyl version- the original version, for some ridiculous reason, is missing two songs ('last dance' and 'homesick') because they were included on the cassette and cd versions of the album as bonus tracks in the hopes of killing the vinyl market in favor of cds. it's also sixty minutes crammed onto a single lp, so it's a bit quiet and light on bass. if you turn it up it sounds nice. plus, if the reissue vinyl sounds bad at least i still have the original and can make a vinyl rip with all of the songs. if you can't tell by the amount of time i've spent talking about this i'm on pins and needles waiting for this to finally come out. it's been delayed three times now- it was supposed to come out in april and then the 25th (which is why it's out digitally right now) and now it's set to come out on june 8th. i'm probably most excited about the expanded version of 'entreat' which now is a live version of the entire album- including 'plainsong,' 'lovesong,' 'lullaby' and 'the same deep water as you.' without those tracks it always seemed a bit lacking, despite the high quality of the recordings and performances. the 'prayers for rain' version that's on there is pretty special. i did discover that robert smith's 6-string bass part was redone later. fie, for shame!
other than that i don't have much planned for today. from here (here being new wave coffee) i'm going to go to work to pick up my paycheck and then ride my bike home.
i was thinking of working on a new song that i wrote in anticipation of an upcoming strings recording session. the song has no string arrangement at the moment. i just need to get stuck somewhere and be bored for more than an hour.

Friday, May 21, 2010

recording blog: making 'down to sleep'

recording ‘down to sleep’ was a really surreal experience- it stretched over about six or seven moves. There’s some overlap with ‘petals’ as well as ‘learning how to crawl,’ but really ‘petals’ was pretty much done by the time we moved to chicago and ‘learning how to crawl’ was an accident- everything was recorded very quickly and without much fanfare or planning or intent of release. ‘down to sleep’ was very pre-planned, however.

‘the sun is so bright’- written in 2006. i wrote the lyrics down randomly during a drive back to chicago from st. louis after i’d played at the 2006 st. louis noise festival (we had been invited to play, but stefanie wasn’t able to go with me for some reason so I had to play the show by myself, which wasn’t so fun). i had to get in the van and drive straight home at about 9 or 10pm so i could get to work the next morning. while i was driving i kept thinking up little phrases that would make great lyrics. i wrote them all down when i stopped. they were a mish-mash of a million different ideas on the same page. the music was written later in 2007 once i’d bought my new fender twin reverb amp and my fender jaguar. the jaguar became best used for the open C tuning that i’m so fond of and it still is to this day. i wrote the chords out with the idea being that they would build from something simple to something fuller- sort of like the song ‘honey’ by spacemen 3. it was done with the built-in tremolo setting on the fender twin and the reverse reverb effect on a yamaha spx 90, which i use for damned near everything. one day i happened upon the page of random lyrics when i had an idea to make a song with tons of different overlapping, layered lines a la ‘ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space’ by spiritualized and i tried all of the random lines over the chords and they fit, so i figured out which order they should come in and i made a 4-track demo to figure out the best way for them to layer and determine who should sing what. i also loved the fact that in ‘ladies and gentlemen…’ jason pierce had segued into a cover of ‘can’t help falling in love’ but i wanted to be able to do it with something that was in the public domain so it would be easy to do in a legal sense. i also love old folk songs. ‘didn’t leave nobody but the baby’ seemed like the most obvious choice because i’ve always loved the version that’s in ‘oh brother, where art thou?’ i gave that a try and it fit. so it goes. i started a version on the 8-track with the figure played on acoustic guitar and a rhythmic time-keeping section in the middle during what would become the a capella part. the guitar part was recorded during a trip to kansas city in may of 2007 to record tons of guitar parts with different amp combinations (i was going to try to use a ton of my friend mike’s amps in addition to the two i had) as well as record as many of billy’s cello parts as possible. this took place at stefanie’s parents’ house while they were away. i was pretty much working around the clock over the course of three days. the amp combination on this one was my fender twin reverb and mike’s fender blues deville 212 pointed towards each other and five different mics between the two (pretty much all sm57s on each speaker and an sm58 in the middle), through the spx 90 reverse reverb, with the built-in tremolo from the fender twin and a fender blender distortion pedal for the ending. the drums were originally from before stefanie had bought a floor tom and consisted of the metal table from the ‘learning how to crawl’ ep. once stefanie had bought the floor tom this was one of the first drum parts we re-recorded because all i did was mic the floor tom with an sm58 and the tambourine with an sm57 without any overheads. not sure if that was the best decision as it’s possible that the low end would’ve been easier to hear if i’d used a few overheads or at least one room mic, but it works. the bass on it is nice and phat. the vocal parts were done after the may trip to kansas city- rather than sing the three overdubs (stefanie’s first line ran through the entire length of the song) ten times each we did each one two times and i only added reverb to two of the voices. in retrospect it would’ve been much easier to just do the vocals using the inputs that we still had, but i think there were only one or two because we’d also recorded billy’s two cello parts in kansas city in may, so i had to do the vocals in the typical way that most of the vocals were done for ‘down to sleep’- i transferred the guide track to another tape, we recorded the vocals then sampled the individual verses and tried to sync them up on the main tape, something that was often easier than expected, but hair-pullingly frustrating when the two recordings refused to match up. in this case they matched up perfectly on the first try- something that only happened a few times especially in a case like this where the vocals run the entire length of the song with no break. the background textural loop was added last. the inbetween track was a glockenspiel duet that I did in one day during a dead period when we were biding our time until we had the floor tom.

‘don’t go’- this was written in 2004 in Portland and demoed there as well at the same time as a song that didn’t end up making the final cut called ‘my love is a hole.’ the first version was built around a loop that i had made using the toy piano that we used to have, a tambourine and a few other things that i don’t even remember now- the original idea was to make these massive, symphonic loops that would fill up all of the inputs on the 8-track and build the songs around those. we did an old version of this song in august of 2005 just before we moved to chicago after our break in kansas city during which time we got married, went on tour and recorded a ton. stefanie sang the vocal ten times in the shower of the guest floor of her parents’ house. the version didn’t quite soar the way it was supposed to, so we elected to attempt another version later, which ended up not being for quite a long time. the glockenspiel part was the second thing we recorded with the glockenspiel once we bought it in late 2007- stefanie played the part twice exactly the same with exactly the same mic set-up. the guitar part was done in our apartment with the fender twin reverb and the fender princeton chorus amp pointed towards each other. the distortion pedal was stefanie’s old russian big muff pedal from her bass playing days. i tried to use the vintage big muff that i had at the time, but it was a bit too fierce and stefanie’s pedal came out warm, fuzzy, thick and smooth, which suited the song beautifully. the vocals were done in the same style as most of the ‘down to sleep’ vocals- doubled ten times clean then run through an amp in the abandoned stairwell of our apartment building so that the echo could be recorded on a microphone three floors up, then sampled and synched up with the main tracks later. the melody was added via a fender bass vi through chorus and a floating delay (a la ‘disintegration’ era robert smith 6-string bass parts). it was doubled during the may trip to kansas city by billy on cello, but the notes were hard for him to reach and they made the vocal sound out of key. at that time the glockenspiel part was played on the toy piano, which sounded a bit tinnier than the glockenspiel (which is why we redid it later). this is what prompted us to place a craigslist ad for a violinist, which is how we found chris. the violin part he plays here is the first one we ever had him do and it turned out beautifully. this song was a go-to song when we played our first restrained electric shows and we played it at our first chicago show ever- which was at the black spot gallery. the inbetween bit is the instrumental demo for ‘my love is a hole’ which was demoed at the same time as ‘don’t go’ in our apartment in portland in 2004- it was in a similar style to the ‘don’t go’ demo, but came out much better than it’s final version, so it was included here. it’s just a few guitars through delay and reverb recorded backwards and the toy piano.

‘to the sky’- this song was written when i was at columbia college in 1997. i recorded the earliest version of it over thanksgiving break- it was done with backwards guitars and 6-string basses. it still sounds pretty cool, i must say- one of my earliest and most successful 4-track experiments. once i’d conceived of ‘down to sleep’ this is pretty much how i envisioned all of the tracks. the loop is made up of a bass droning a dissonant chord, a 6-string bass, an acoustic guitar with a swirling delay on it, a bass strummed in rhythm, a tambourine and an old shalloboi-style percussion looping technique that can be heard all over ‘blue-eyed’ and a great deal of ‘petals’ and ‘invisible against the sun’- to simulate drum sounds that i liked i would pound out rhythms on the back of my acoustic guitar, hitting different areas of the guitar to simulate snare and bass drum sounds and then flip it backwards and mess with the eq in order to make it sound more convincing. this is the last such loop that ever appeared on a shalloboi record and it worked so well- the loop is perfectly synched in time so it’s incredibly easy to play along with without sacrificing any of the fullness and drony expansiveness. the loop was started in an apartment in portland that we lived in that was on the northeast side off of sandy blvd. at 23rd street (the only apartment of ours in Portland that wasn’t in the southeast). i used to record a lot of my noisy guitar and bass parts for loops direct in this apartment. most of ‘petals’ was done while we lived there. i later redid it at stefanie’s aunt and uncle’s guest house- which is where the majority of the loud guitar parts for ‘petals’ and ‘invisible against the sun’ were recorded. the other stuff was added later in our last apartment in portland. we started the final version during our stay in kansas city in august of 2005- stefanie recorded her vocal in the shower, double ten times and i recorded the guitar as two separate parts. later on i wasn’t happy with how crowded the track was and started a new version. i recorded the cello part with billy’s friend hannah trobe, who only played on this song and the version of ‘on the bridge’ that can be found on the ‘wish’ digital single. it came out very nicely and she was a great sport about playing along using my weirdo method of music notation. the guitar part ended up being done in order to meet the application deadline to apply for a south by southwest music showcase slot- i thought it would be good to include a new track. sadly it didn’t work. at the time i still didn’t have the fender twin, so it was done through the fender princeton chorus and also through my bass amp pointed at each other using the aforementioned vintage big muff, the reverse reverb, some delay and also the guitar part is played with a bow and it is a combination of the two parts from the previous recording- when we’d play this song live i’d combine the two parts and it always worked very beautifully and when it was recorded this way the track sounded less crowded. i pulled stefanie’s vocal from the original version and was able to sync it up very easily. i also recorded a toy piano melody in the stairwell. it was a beautiful track that i thought worked well as a template, but the album then took on a completely different and more organic direction and none of the songs that were built entirely around loops worked anywhere near as well. the inbetween bit at the end is from an answering machine message from a job in portland that i tried to get in order to supplement my income in preparation for our move- after going in for the interview and finding out that working there for a few months wouldn’t be worth my time i just didn’t show up for my first day of training and the guy who interviewed me left me this hilarious message in which he makes a freudian slip, sounds really annoyed and then still says ‘thank you’ at the end. what’s more i felt that his acting upon an impulse that most people would say but not do was admirable enough for a tribute. amazing. i bleeped out his and his company’s name just in case. the background is a recording i made out the window of our apartment in portland in the southeast during a rare spate of thunderstorms that they were having in the summer just before we left town- for whatever reason while it rains constantly you hardly ever hear the sound of thunder there, which became something we adored whenever it would happen because we missed it so much. there are some popping looped sounds and those are from the fourth of july at my parents’ old house in the brookside neighborhood in kansas city (it’s a very residential, affluent suburb-feeling neighborhood)- someone was setting off fireworks outside my window so i recorded them and looped this phrase and ran it through some reverb on the boss sp-303 sampler.

‘crawl to you’- written in 2004 or 2005. the acoustic guitar part was recorded in the closet at the studio apartment above the congress theater- sounds so fantastic. the vocals were done in november of 2006 in order to send a copy to billy so that he could hear it before we played it at davey’s uptown. the original percussion part featured the table, but made the whole thing a gargantuan, muddy mess. the cello was recorded during the may trip to kansas city by billy. there was an electric guitar part done at that time as well using the vintage big muff as the distortion, but it just didn’t work that well and was later redone in our apartment with the fender twin and princeton chorus and a marshall shredmaster- which whipped the distorted part of this song into shape- it always worked the best for the dronier stuff. the drony, synthy sounds were made with some really loud high guitars, low bass parts done on an analog fowley organ that was set up in the performance room of our last apartment (in the first artist in residence building) using the bass pedals mostly and then I had Stefanie sing along to some notes a few times- each chord would last for about thirty seconds and would often end with Stefanie laughing in multitrack. they were all mixed together and sampled as four different chords that could be played by Stefanie when we played the song live. the emphasis on this album was on the analog- even the keyboards that were used on the loops had to be analog, even though they would be sampled digitally. the drum part was done on the same day as ‘the sun is so bright’ in the same way since it was just the floor tom being hit with a mallet. the inbetween bit is a piano piece I made up and recorded at stefanie’s parents’ house during our stay. the other part was an improvised noise-making session with a delay pedal and the fender jaguar in the open C tuning.

‘you turn down’- written in 2006 over the course of about a week while i was working at lorna’s laces. i used to enjoy spinning the mohair yarn- it was a chore no one else liked doing, but it allowed me to do something mindless and repetitive while listening to my ipod and, perhaps most importantly, i didn’t have to answer the phone while i was doing it (which i intensely hated doing there as it was always getting me into trouble). this is a song i wrote while i was over there spinning- one of the reasons i like mindless, repetitive work so much is because my mind wanders and sometimes if it’s somewhat rhythmic i end up writing a bunch of songs while doing it. i have no idea how i made up this tuning because it’s a weird one- basically i took the two bottom strings on my acoustic guitar and tuned them up a full step so it was (low to high) EACFD. A variation of this tuning became the basis for ‘glasslands’ off of the ‘dandelions’ ep- the same tuning, just a full step up- F#BDGE. acoustic guitar was done first, then i did some multi-tracked, backwards textural stuff as the background- first two really high guitars that were played really loudly on the fender twin reverb with some delay and reverb and transposed so that the tape speed could be turned all the way down when they were recorded, so they would be completely stratospheric in pitch and float over everything else. after that i did an organ part on that awesome fowley organ that was in the next-door artist in residence building. once i had those parts i had to bounce them down to a single input in order to make room for the electric guitar, drums, the vocals and the fully-fleshed out string trio part that i had arranged for the song (the first arrangement of its kind which i continue to use to this day). i bounced it down and left it for a long time while i was doing the vocals on another tape in the normal fashion for the record- recorded ten times on a separate tape then adding reverb, sampling and syncing. once that was done i recorded the electric guitar part, which was done by bowing the low E string open and looping it on a boss dd-5 and then adjusting the volume to a proper level so that the two parts meshed well and then i played the electric guitar part over it- very unadorned as it turned out. the guitar was played through just the twin reverb at a really loud level with only one microphone, the reverb on the amp, no delay and on the bright channel (which I hardly ever use on the twin) setting with that vintage big muff. something about it just worked and i’ve never used the same setting since, even during this song’s solitary live work out (on a live set record for WZRD). the two low cello parts were recorded in billy’s apartment and were the first notated music that i gave to billy- written out in bass clef. chris recorded the violin part later during the same session as ‘don’t go.’ the inbetween bit is from an improvised feedback workout with the fender jaguar done with a delay pedal in open C tuning. the background was recorded at union station one night after i got off of work at chase- i love the weird overlap of voices calling out the track numbers- a nice ambient and rhythmic quality to it and fitting the eerie mood that pervades at union station late at night (i got pretty familiar with that feeling during the megabus years).

‘angels floating on the head of a pin’- written in 2005 at ceda (my first job in chicago) at the same time as ‘life in a hive’ off of ‘dandelions’ and ‘ashes ashes’ off of ‘all hope is blind.’ Weird, sonic youth-y tuning- EAC#C#C#C#. another instance of a symphonic loop that actually worked. not sure where all of the different parts came from- just messing around with the tuning in the closet at our first apartment in chicago- there is a floor tom part played by stefanie on mike tuley’s drum set from a mostly non-productive session recording some drum parts for loops during our stay in kansas city in august of 2005- the first time stefanie had played drums actually, a guitar with just reverb playing doubled harmonics in the different octaves, a bass playing some harmonics rhythmically and a direct fuzz bass with a bit of delay- all turned backwards except for the floor tom. perfectly looped and very easy to play along with live. i started an old version of this that clocked in at about nine minutes. i even recorded the vocals for it in the congress theater- one of the only surviving vocal parts recorded there. during one of the ten times i was doubling it a rat ran up the stairwell and i screamed like a woman and stopped the tape to listen to it later and it was quite hilarious. i wish i could’ve used it on something else because i was shocked at the sound that came from me- hilarious. stefanie’s original drum part featured the ever-present table and two guitar parts that were supposed to be scratch guitar parts- done with the twin and princeton chorus facing each other. for some reason i couldn’t get a decent version of the guitar part laid down while we were in kansas city in may of 2007 and it ended up being pushed clear to the end almost. the final rhythm guitar part was done with a marshall shredmaster and the twin and princeton chorus facing each other. the lead guitar part ended up being what was supposed to be a scratch part- it just sounded too good not to keep- done with the fender twin and princeton chorus and using the vintage big muff and a crybaby wah wah pedal. stefanie then redid the drum part with the floor tom.

‘sloba’- written at the eleventh hour in late 2007 while i was still working at chase. in the dropped D tuning of ‘crawl to you,’ ‘voices in the air’ and ‘on the bridge.’ i worked out the guitar parts one day and recorded them immediately along with a click track- both are first takes and the idea to loop at the end came to me as the tape was rolling- brilliant and inspired noise-making. fender twin and princeton chorus facing each other through reverse reverb, a little delay and the marshall shredmaster. the lead guitar part has a moment where i pick up a slide and start using it as well as an inspired feedback loop- neither of which were planned. after doing the guitar parts i recorded the vocal immediately- doubled ten times and bounced on the main track so as to save time including the added reverb which i also did that day. once stefanie came home from work i showed her the track and she played the drum parts immediately- it was her idea to double them. also not planned and done in one take- i particularly like the strange way that her maraca shaking doesn’t quite match up but has a pleasant effect all it’s own. she even came up with the drumbeat- the only touches i made were in the chorus. the last part that was added was the droning keyboard. i was going to go next door and do it on the fowley organ, but i was selling an old digital organ that my dad had given me in order to pay for the record (the remaining balance was paid for with the $600 stimulus check i received in the mail). i figured it was a fitting tribute to at least use it on one thing on the record and since it was a full keyboard i was able to tape down several octaves worth of the D chord and it made a nice, full drone. my dad was not happy about me selling it, but i hardly ever used it at that point. all told the song was only a few days worth of work and we continue to end with it whenever we play as a two-piece. good stuff.

‘ahn’- written in 1997 at columbia. the last of the three foundation tracks. this was written via inspiration from ‘softly’ by siouxsie and the banshees and the original 4-track recording had a bunch of volume swelled 6-string basses over some casio keyboard strings and some samples from a play i wrote in high school recorded on a little micro-cassette recorder i had (wish i still had that actually- it’d be handy for some textural spoken stuff). this started as a guide track with just clean guitar and vocals on the same track, then billy added three cello parts in may of 2007. vocals were done next- there was a ten times doubled version that just didn’t work so well for whatever reason. the one on the album was only doubled once, if at all, although it did get the stairwell reverb treatment. chris added the violin part during his first session with us, which was supposed to replace billy’s third part, but the two meshed so well we just kept them all in there. i did the 6-string bass in the original style, but i just didn’t like it so much and came up with a bowed guitar part that i felt worked a lot better. the variation of the main figure was made up on the spot and during the distorted part is played through the marshall shredmaster. stefanie did the drum and glockenspiel part at the same time- she was having a really rough time that day and the part isn’t perfect, but i have trouble remembering where the mistakes are to this day when i hear it.

‘down to sleep’- written in 1997 while i was at columbia college. one of three foundation tracks for the record. this was originally done entirely on 6-string basses with a rhythmic delay setting, i started a version based on the original 4-track version while we were in kansas city in august of 2005. it ended up being redone completely in the closet at the apartment above the congress theater and the version is definitely fascinating as an alternate take on the song as it was completed- billy even did a cello part for it in may- he did both versions back to back in fact. the version that ended up on the record that we play live occasionally was begun with a guide track where i played the song on the guitar clean, with reverb and singing along recorded to the same track. i still need to check to see if this demo survived on the main tracks as the song doesn’t have that many parts, really. the guitar was done during the same trip in may of 2007 using the fender twin, mike’s fender deville and a shitload of beautiful volume. knocked out of the park in a single take- overtone heaven. no distortion, gain is only the result of pressure applied to the strings while playing. no outside texture necessary. the melody that billy plays is basically the transposed 6-string bass part from the original version. the vocals were redone for this version as the ones from the original version didn’t sync up properly (they were done in a room in the congress theater with an obscenely high ceiling and a defaced picture of joss stone- in all of my notes for the album it’s called ‘the joss stone room’ for this reason) in the same style- doubled ten times, stairwell reverb. the original drum part was done by me with the table and it stayed for a really long time- stefanie redid the drum part later with the floor tom. a few of the early mixes had both. there’s not much to it, really- guitar, vocals, one cello part and drums.

‘so goodbye…’- written in 2006 around the same time as ‘narcoleptic.’ it’s the first entry in my second ever moleskine pocket notebook. in that entry it’s titled ‘flowers for amanda’ after a friend of mine from high school who had just died in august of that year. very sad, unexpected and sudden, she was only 25. my story with her was a strange one. anyway, this song was built around a loop made with the toy piano and a droning guitar pattern, not entirely sure of the tuning as we’ve never played this song live. it could be done, the loop is easy to play along with, but stefanie hates this song- the lyrics are very out-pouring and they don’t hold back and i had her sing them with me ten times. understandably she wasn’t very happy by the time we were done despite my explanations that they were more indicative of the way that i used to feel rather than how i was feeling at that moment. it takes the piss out of a lot of love song clichés such as ‘i’d climb a mountain for you’ sort of stuff. i used to love that stuff around the time that i’d met amanda and applied a lot of that to my feelings for her. kind of naïve and misguided, but also special in the sense that you can only really hold those sentiments for a short period of time in your life. it had occurred to me that i had outgrown the writing of those teenage-type lovesongs and to me that was very lamentable as there’s something very special about remembering those feelings. all of these things were on my mind as i was writing this and i am pretty happy with the way that it turned out, even though stefanie really took it to heart. the guitar part was done in may of 2007 in kansas city as was the cello part. the guitar was done with the fender twin and deville and also no distortion- probably done immediately after ‘down to sleep.’ the tuning is (i believe) DGDGAD maybe? the drums are one of the first drum parts that we did with the floor tom- stefanie played the table and the floor tom as well, the only time we ever did this. i believe we recorded them on martin luther king jr. day because i had the night off from chase as i was working there at the same time as beans and bagels. the glockenspiel loop from the inbetween part after the ‘sun is so bright…’ returns as a loop and speed manipulated which worked fairly nicely. and now, the ending random bit- that ‘i love you, mary,’ song. that song came to me in a dream that i had- imagine woody allen singing it from the bathroom of a space shuttle leaving earth. that’s pretty much what it sounded like- a jazzy piano and organ. i was going to add strings to it too, but it was a bit much for something that was pretty much a complete joke. the version of it that i have recorded is about five minutes long and there is another version that was done on 4-track at our apartment in the southeast in portland in 2005. i had originally wanted to have it pressed to a 78 and record that onto the end of the track, but no one presses 78s anymore. again, a lot of trouble to go to for what is essentially a joke that only i understand. recorded using the piano and fowley organ in the other artist in residence building. the drum part came from a session i did with mike playing drums with the intention of using the recordings to make some loops with. we got some great drum sounds that day, so it seemed a shame not to use at least something from it. i think this was supposed to be for a song called ‘i hear.’ this is probably the only song where i actually used any of those recordings and i have no idea when they were done.

Friday, May 7, 2010

recording blog: making 'all hope is blind'

i started filming new videos for the 'all hope is blind' songs- the idea being to create videos for each song. no idea how i will do this, but i have a solid foundation for the two lead-off tracks. they were going to be very simple and textural but i've decided to try and challenge myself and make them very engaging, beautiful pieces of art. i came across what i called the 'down to sleep' diary. i tried to document the making of the record and completely failed miserably. what i ended up with was more of a diary of impressions from the passing of time during the making of the record- small things that happened, etc. i wished that i had documented the making of 'all hope is blind' but i've noticed that when i tend to get into recording mode it's actually not always obvious to me to turn a camera on before i start doing whatever i'm doing- so i miss a lot. i thought i'd kind of put this up here as a sort of document for myself, if for no one else.
'all hope is blind' began conceptually probably as early as 1998. once i'd come up with the framework for 'petals' as well as 'down to sleep' (and several jumping-off point songs) other things began to fall into place as well and i came up with a concept for a real glacially-paced, atmospheric and grey extended mood piece- something like a combination of 'faith' by the cure and 'adore' by the smashing pumpkins (which had just been released at that point, been nearly universally loathed, but also listened to and loved like few other records of that time by myself- it was exactly what i needed at that time and to me is the last good smashing pumpkins record). i wanted it to be brief as well as minimal (which are both touchstones of those two records). as the years went by and i started to pull out of a crippling year-long depression i found myself living back in kansas city and going to umkc, kicking myself for not staying in chicago. i began writing songs for this 'faith'/'adore'-like record- in fact the earliest versions of 'windsong' and 'paper doves' were written that year as well as several others that didn't end up making the cut. 'forever drowning' was written that year in my first one-bedroom apartment and i opened with it at the first shalloboi show in 2001. 'whisper' was demoed in 2004 while we were living in portland.

'forever drowning'- written in 1999. the lyrics and the chords for this song have barely changed. i think there was an Em that became a Gm at some point, but i actually don't even remember how it was done on the record. i wrote the lyrics for a poetry class i was taking with one of the most unengaging teachers i've ever encountered. my boredom in class gave birth to my propensity for textural line drawings- the drawing on the cover of 'blue-eyed' was ripped out of my notebook for this class. after the 'down to sleep' album was finished and much of the 'dandelions' material was finished on my part (as this will illustrate, strings tend to be difficult to coordinate) i decided i should start working on 'all hope is blind.' i had about 18 songs in mind at this point- some of the songs required no percussion. the idea after 'down to sleep' was that i wanted to buy a few more nice mics and really work on capturing a good drum sound, as i felt like that was my weakness in recording at that point. since we didn't have any money to buy new equipment at that point and a tour looming in september i worked out arrangements for this song and 'ashes ashes' on july 2nd. both involved looping the sound of me hitting the guitar strings with my palm and running it through a dense, floating reverb. the loop speed was influenced by the maximum capacity for looping on the boss dd-5 digital delay pedal. i had two of them at that point- one for looping and the other just for delay. then basically what i did was set up the looped percussive sound, started recording, counted in the guitars, the strings and sang a scratch vocal part along with the looped percussion all as guide tracks to build upon. at the end i turned off the loop and then overdubbed the two bowed guitar parts, which had to be done separately because each song is in a very different tuning- 'forever drowning' is in a standard tuning with the 2nd string tuned to C. after that i arranged the strings. at that point i only had billy on cello and had just met chris and he was playing violin most of the time, so the sheet music has the low part in bass clef as well as the middle part. i went back to kansas city on the megabus at some point during october to record string parts and that would be when this song's low and middle parts were recorded. after returning chris was busy with a play that he was in and we were trying to get 'christmas song revisited' finished for a christmas compilation that was due in late november. without a violinist i had to place an ad on craigslist for one, which is how we had met chris. two people responded- andrew royal was the first and he came in quickly and did the two parts we needed from him for 'christmas song revisited' as well as the violin part for 'glasslands' off of 'dandelions' (chris's part had gone well but there was too much leakage from my acoustic guitar guide track- a shame as chris's part was very beautiful) and then a week later katelyn eldridge emailed me and i had her come by to play on five of the new songs in december. at that point the album was not a priority because we basically just had the seeds planted, but i wasn't about to turn an enthusiastic player away. katelyn recorded all five first take and essentially her first session with us made the album- she picked up on everything very quickly. the vocals were added next- stefanie and i sang them together on the same mic and then i was going to send them through an amp in the stairwell down the hallway (which we'd done for all of the vocals up to and including 'christmas song revisited'). the day i was supposed to do it someone tried to steal my ksm27 after i'd gotten everything set up and i was too freaked out to bother with it, so once the album was nearly done i started to set up an ambient mic in our shower and ran the vocals through my fender twin reverb with the reverb from that. this produced a similar effect, but somehow captured more of a dry, claustrophobic, suffocated effect that worked very well for the songs, so most of the reverbs were done this way instead of using the stairwell. the glockenspiel was done by me one day during the last few months of finishing up the album. stefanie didn't know the part and i knew what i wanted so i had to do it twice very quickly to match the sound up perfectly because i was going for the glockenspiel sound of 'don't go' on 'down to sleep' and when doubling the glockenspiel if it isn't exactly the same setup and sound it just doesn't work- the air coming off of the bells causes a fucked up and ugly phasing effect that fucks with the matching tones. that part was one of a few parts that were finished last.

'ashes ashes'- done in the same way as the last song. written in 2005 during my first job in chicago at ceda and the same week as 'angels floating on the head of a pin'- in the same tuning as well- EAC#C#C#C# (low to high). this song was intended for 'down to sleep' but we never got to it and it had loops, but none of them suited the song very well as well as the reverse reverb effect/thickening delay combo that most of the guitars on 'down to sleep' have didn't suit it either. it also had no distortion and worked best quietly. it was demoed in the closet in our first studio apartment in town which is where we recorded most of 'learning how to crawl.' for some reason acoustic instruments sounded amazing in there. the strings have the same story as 'forever drowning.' stefanie originally sang her vocal through the harmonica mic, but the gritty feel of it just didn't suit the way she sang it at all, so we just recorded it straight with a ksm27 and sm57a and we even had a pop filter at that point (we used to just use a sock on a hanger). she suggested we double it and it sounded absolutely perfect. i could never think of anything else to add, the string arrangement just sounded so perfect and it didn't need any drums or any other melody so it stayed. for whatever reason the original middle part that billy recorded had to be re-recorded, most likely because of a mixing issue. at some point in the process it had to be bounced to a different track in order to make room for another track and since the songs were recorded together essentially i ended up having him re-record it so that the middle part on both songs was on the same input, removing the stress of making a switch so quickly during mixing.

'under the flood'- written in 2005 on the way home from the brian jonestown massacre show. anton talked about new orleans a lot because it'd just happened, so it's built around a lot of that kind of imagery. i made up the chords as well and possibly the tuning. it's a weird one and this is the only song i've used it for- CGCGAC (low to high). the loop was recorded in the studio apartment closet- it was bass and i also used the toy piano that made a few appearances on the 'down to sleep' album that we later gave away as a gift to our nephew in portland once we'd bought a glockenspiel. i added reverb to the bass in the congress theater in the main part- i put the bass amp up on the stage and a mic out in the middle of the floor and i recorded it backwards and forwards which is why it has that odd slurred quality. the maintenance men in the building were having a conversation while i was setting up the mics and everything and i had to wait about 10 minutes for them to leave so i could record. they ruined many a take when i was in there recording vocals in the many stairways and open spaces. the tambourine came along later, once we'd moved into the place on winthrop- it was done in the abandoned stairwell- i recorded it forwards and then doubled it backwards and it created a nice, rhythmic suction sound. one of my neighbors heard me in the stairwell and was very surprised to open the door and see me sitting there with a toy piano on my lap and all of my recording equipment surrounding me. i just said, 'hi, there.' the guy couldn't look me in the eye for the next three years we lived there. it really freaked him out, i guess. i recorded a demo of this song in 2006 or 2007 while i was suffering from a 9-month long debilitating dry cough that was most likely the result of inhaling chemical dyes while working at lorna's laces. kind of a shame as it changed my voice at a time when i was getting particularly strong. i'd done the demo with the intention of building the song up around it (several of the 'down to sleep' songs that weren't based around loops were built up this way), but once the loop was fixed it became ephemeral, although the strained vocal has a certain restrained honesty and beauty to it. it would make a good outtake if that day were to come. the guitars were recorded a day or two after 'forever drowning' and 'ashes ashes' with the same dense floating reverb. since the guitar was tuned so low and it was on the fender jaguar, which i hadn't had that long at that point and was unaccustomed to bowing i ended up having to manipulate these giant booming drones when i would hit certain chords. at first i thought it wouldn't be usable, but it gives the guitar a really interesting and consistently tumultuous bent that somehow doesn't overpower the rest of the track. the strings are from the october visit to kansas city and katelyn's first session with us. i liked the way the track sounded with just the loop, guitar and repeating strings so much that i made an instrumental mix that is quite a nice outtake as i had to bounce the strings to a single track in order to make room for the vocals and the drums as the loop was panned in stereo and the guitar had to go on two tracks panned to either side (i've done this trick from the first album onward) so that it doesn't take up too much space but is still audible and powerful. that left us with only three tracks for everything else. we did the vocals next- we did something unique to get the sound as well- the mic was set up in the shower again and stefanie and i sang from the hallway in front of the bathroom and then we doubled it and we had the playback coming in through an amp that we sang along with. at one point our cat tilly came into the hallway to mew at us while i was singing. we had to do a few punch-ins but it's a nice, spontaneous take. we never did any other vocals that way, either, but that's what makes it so nice. the drums were recorded first once i had some new mics and still didn't know quite what i was doing with them, so the drums sound a bit muffled. it was just as well since the loop was the driving force anyway, and the performance was good and quick so we kept it. ironically the track turned out very well with all of its raggedness and weirdness.

'whisper'- first demoed as an instrumental in 2004 in portland. this uses the same tuning as 'invisible against the sun'- the 2nd string is A, the 1st is C#. i also tuned the 3rd string down to F just to make the chords easier to grab. it originally was driven by a delay setting that created rhythmic repeats one could play along with. the 'chorus' if you want to call it that came to me during our first trip home to kansas city for christmas from chicago. for some reason i'd brought my 4-track and i got up and set it up and recorded the vocal hook as best as i could at 4am. it worked. i remembered it in the morning. of course, then stefanie sang it completely differently once she did her vocal, so that's where my vocal overdub came from- i started doing it while we were practicing for the first strings trio show at elastic arts foundation. around january of 2009 we started to do more live recording to build tracks over mainly out of necessity. this was the second song we did that way and it turned out perfectly because we were able to get a great sense of space from doing the guitar and the drums at the same time. it also made the recordings nice and snappy. this one only took a month or so and really that was just a few days spread out over that period of time. the vocals were done very quickly, stefanie sang them once in one take and the pristine vocal still exists on one of the inputs as i was thinking of keeping it over the one with the reverb on it. the strings were done with katelyn and chris playing together live and the cello was added during a trip to kansas city in april. i had no count-offs so i added them off the cuff while i was recording with billy and they were right on the first try and i didn't have to resort to some of the craziness i normally have to do out of necessity (i.e. flipping over a tape and recording the count in backwards so that it's right). a little too easy.

'paper doves'- written mostly in 1999. 2nd string is tuned down to A. i think i rewrote the words to the verses in summer of 2005 or 2006. i can't remember- they just came to me one day and i recycled some of the older lyrics into new ones. the guitars were done along with a guide track since they were in that loud, dense, watery style of 'down to sleep.' i got it with reverse reverb and a ringing delay to thicken it up. the chorus is not done with a distortion box- it's a vox over the top boost, which is more of a tone booster than a distortion box. i bought it for the 2008 tour as a way to get the dirty tone that the twin reverb gets with an excess of volume. it runs on a tube and sounds really good. it's a nice inbetween that isn't too distorted but also not too squeaky clean. i did 'falling stars' on the same day with the same set up. for the guitars on 'down to sleep' i would take two guitar amps and face them towards each other- the twin reverb and the princeton chorus (which is a very loud amp, despite its size) about a foot and a half apart then i'd put the ksm27 inbetween the two, then the d112 and a beta57a on the two speakers for the twin and sm57s on the two speakers for the princeton chorus, run it all through a mixer and then record it into the 8-track. the vocals were done next. for this one i did a 'down to sleep' style vocal, which involved singing the main vocal and then doubling it nine times and then adding reverb and adjusting it all together. this time i ran the vocals through the ksm27 in the bathroom to give it a drier sound. they were done into the 8-track and bounced as i went along and then all bounced together once i got the sound i was after. katelyn and chris were supposed to do this one together at the same time, but ended up having to do it seperately. billy did his cello track during that april trip to kc. the drums were done last. after a few from those first five tracks this one and 'falling stars' were the first finished tracks from album. stefanie and i got into an argument about this one because she did it second and couldn't play along with the guitar guide track (i picked a weird strumming pattern for this one for some reason and it was a little bit weird at the beginning). she was frustrated because we'd already been playing the song live and she could do it, but the pace of the track on tape was very sluggish because we hadn't played it yet at all and live it had started to pop and work as a very visceral, fast song. stefanie was used to the popping version and she was having trouble playing it slow. i had a try and got the drums down in one take. she played along with my drum track later, but soundwise it wasn't as good as my take, even though the playing was a touch shaky in places. so that's why it's the only track i play drums on on the new record and why it's the only song that stefanie did nothing on. i had to speed up the tempo a bit during mixing as well because it was so painfully slow.

'you can choke on your own breath'- written in 2006 or 2007. can't remember. the break riff is something i wrote for a song of tony presley's (aka real live tigers). i played a show with him at the hideout and that was the line i played during 'requiem for sunken ships.' when he didn't use it on the record (i recorded 'there is a storm that sleeps inside us' with him over christmas 2005 and april 2006) i made it into this song. i liked the riff too much to not use it. the song ended up echoing his own song a bit, but melodically it fell in a pretty different space. i think it's really fun to sing really evil, hateful lyrics in such a quiet, listless way. this song has brutal lyrics. stefanie and i did this one live and then katelyn and chris were able to do their parts live as well. the cello was added in june during my last megabus trip to kansas city to record with billy. the vocals were done in a similar way to 'forever drowning.'

'falling stars'- written in 2008 or 2009. can't remember. it's the newest song on the record, i do know that. it was written in an arrangement for 'chinese blue' and right after we started using the harmonica mic- which would date it early 2009. i tried it in a watery guitar style- the original 'chinese blue' demo had a rhythm guitar with a soft tremelo, a plate reverb and then amp reverb and then a reverse reverb guitar, a floating reverb lead guitar over the second half and a different drumbeat and a direct fuzz bass. i ended up liking the watery guitar version better and adapted the different parts from the demo into a string arrangement- the lead guitar became the violin part, the bass part became the cello part, the harmonica mic stayed and stefanie recorded her own drum part, which used less variable sounds but somehow filled the space and drove the song forward in a better way. since it was written in a strange key the top two strings had to be tuned down half a step so that they would ring and drone in key. this is very typical of the type of beat stefanie comes up with- it's not showy at all, simple as can be but it keeps the song moving at an appropriate clip. the strings were done during the same session as 'paper doves.' this also has that vox over the top boost. for some reason the first of mix this song was better than what ended up on the album- the guitars were a touch louder as on the album they are a bit too much in the background. if we were ever end up repressing the record i might have to fix this as the fade in for 'whisper' is also a touch late.

'christmas song, pt. iii'- written in 2005. we rehearsed this with billy for the davey's uptown acoustic show in december of 2006. i wrote this while i was listening to a ton of dirty three. i recorded a demo for this in the aforementioned closet and it turned out really well- it was originally played with a bow and the melody was on the bottom string. i revamped it once i started playing in an open C tuning. i played this along with a click track because of the whole 'paper doves' debacle. i also did an outtake called 'pale' at around this time and started a version of 'narcoleptic.' both played along with a click track. the vocals were just doubled- nothing else fancy done to them. stefanie did the drums very quickly after this was done. we figured out the part together. this also has the vox over the top boost during the ending part. it has a textural loop that was taken from 'the sun is so bright...' on 'down to sleep', but this marked the death of the idea of adding textural backgrounds to any of these songs because they already had so much dense reverb that everything needed to be kept spare and open. katelyn and chris were able to do this one together and billy did his cello part either in june of 2009. i arranged the strings for this and 'you can choke on your own breath' during the april 2009 kansas city visit- i think i got stuck at my parents' place for an excess of hours because i had no car, so i ended up hanging out at the filling station for a few hours a few days in a row which allowed me ample time to write out the arrangements and then score the individual parts. as always, boredom is responsible for some of the best stuff. string arranging is a fun thing for me to do when i'm going through writer's block- you don't have to come up with anything new as far as chord progressions or lyrics. it's almost like a form of math or putting together a puzzle. besides that it gets you back into an inspired and energized mode about music.

'windsong'- written in 1999. this uses the same vocal/bass sample chords that are on 'fully bloomed' off of 'petals.' i was going to redo them in a different way, but recorded this version and once the strings were added it seemed different enough to me to just keep them. i figured no one would notice or care anyway. 'fully bloomed' was written on a piano- i picked a key that used almost entirely black keys- i believe it's F# or Bb minor. the lyrics were written in the student lounge in royall hall at umkc, as was the glockenspiel melody. it was sort of weird to find it all those years later still intact. it was miraculous, in fact as who knows how the notebook survived so many moves. i did a demo of this song in portland in 2004 that turned out particularly beautifully. the glockenspiel melody was done on the toy piano backwards with a tape speed adjustment to make it in key. that's when it was arranged as well. i wanted it to be very short. i was disappointed when it clocked in at just over three minutes in the final version. the initial basic tracks must've been recorded at some point in 2006 around the time of '4am train.' it's all very murky because this song was one of the first to be started and the last to be finished. i played the sampler like a keyboard through the long, dense reverb through a volume pedal while i counted along through a microphone. i sang a scratch vocal over that and then wrote the string arrangement based on this version. billy recorded his cello parts in april of 2008 when i was home for my aunt's funeral. katelyn recorded the violin in december that year for her first session. stefanie sang the vocal very late in the game through the harmonica mic. she is still not happy with it, says she sounds too tentative, but i refused to let her redo it because i think that the shyness suits the song and when it takes off at the chorus it makes it all the more magical and beautiful. the glockenspiel part was one of the last things we did for the album just before mastering it. i taught it to stefanie and she played it in her own way. we still haven't been able to figure out a way to do this one live, which is a shame since it'd probably be a beautiful song to hear live- the string arrangement is particularly nice.

'4am train'- written in 2006 while i was working at starbucks. i used to have to open the shop, meaning i'd have to be downtown by 4:45am. this would put the time that i had to be on the red line at around 4am. during the wintertime the homeless would still be sleeping on the trains at this time, there would also be a mish-mash of people on their way to or from work and a few drunks stumbling home so this commute always had an extra eerie feeling. i'd just gotten 'pygmalion' by slowdive at this point and basically stole this song wholesale from it and made it my own. i remembered playing the song for tony in april of 2006 when he came to visit and finish 'there is a storm that sleeps inside us.' i keep my acoustic guitar tuned a full step down because it sounds better in that tuning- that's what elliott smith did and i'm pretty sure that's what helped immensely to give his songs such an edge. stefanie and i recorded this song live in our bedroom in november of 2006 and i immediately ran her vocal through an amp in the stairwell. this was before we'd even started doing the 'down to sleep' album in earnest. the reason for getting a recording finished so quickly was because it was a contender to play at the davey's uptown show around christmas that year. we were motivated to finish the vocals for 'crawl to you' off of 'down to sleep' because of this show as well. the windchimes were the type of ambience and subtle textures i wanted to use on the whole album, but ditched later. our cat robin shook his head and rang the bell on his collar while i was recording the chimes. billy recorded the cello parts in april of 2008 and this is the last of katelyn's first session in december of that year. she missed one of the slides and i didn't notice it until the album was mastered, but that's one of the reasons for recording quickly- mistakes like that become so ingrained that they become a blessing- something of that time and place that is more of an indication of the mood and moment than a rigid, perfect performance. i think she noticed she made it, but just figured i'd ask her to fix it. the electric guitar part was one of the first things i recorded on the new fender twin reverb in january of 2007. i think i made it up on the spot and it's a first take.

'narcoleptic'- written in 2006. we played this song a ton after i wrote it. we played it at davey's uptown for the first time and it was always a really beautiful song. it became our set-ender at the restrained shows we had to play around that time. all of the people we knew who put on shows were putting on acoustic shows so we had this brief period in early 2007 where we were playing these quiet electric shows all the time- we would sing without a p.a. but still play electrically and this song worked particularly well at those shows. i did a nice demo of it and tons of people heard it around that time. i tried to record it with a click track, but the whole thing was fucked from the get-go. all of my guitar parts were rigid and i kept fucking them up. even the vocal wasn't working at all. stefanie was trying to add her drum part to it and was the one who said 'maybe we should just wait and record this live like we're used to playing it.' it ended up being the first that we did around the time of 'whisper.' it was a bit strange the way that we did it- i had to do the lead guitar with absolutely no backing playing along with stefanie's drum part so that the ending would be fluid enough with all of the improvisation because when you have a finite time to fill you are always very aware of it and your improvisation suffers because of it. it ended up working like a charm. it did two things- minimized leakage and ended up providing a fertile environment for a very strong drum sound while maintaining a loose, live feel. every part that was recorded afterwards was done very quickly and with great ease. it's still one of the best drum sounds that i've ever captured. we did it in three takes because the first take was cut off and the second i forgot to hit 'record.' during the fade in stefanie says something to that effect- 'third time's a charm.' the feel is very palpable on the recording as well- very fluid and relaxed as the song should be, but also at a good pace with some momentum. the overdubs were all done very very quickly after that. the vocal was done in a single take and i ended up using just the reverb track for the breakdown in the middle (that is just the sound of the vocal coming through the twin reverb and into the mic in the shower). katelyn and chris recorded their parts live. billy did his earlier in april of 2009. sadly chris's viola got a bit buried- a sorry casualty of a song with so many parts- it has two guitar parts, vocals, drums, a bass loop and a string trio. something is bound to get lost in the shuffle. the bass loop was a bit of a breakthrough and was done at the same time as the title track of the album, which ended up becoming an outtake. since it was a digital loop through an sp-303 the bass loses a lot of its presence when it goes from the 8-track into the sampler and then back so in order to bring some of the presence back and do a bit of a digital-back-to-analog conversion i ran the bass loop through my bass amp (i know, quite a concept!) so that the low-end was more present. it's definitely easier to hear that way and brings back a lot of the warmth that's lost. i am forever crestfallen that i didn't make the end of this song a locked groove. it would've been perfect. if a remaster is ever called for, then it can be remedied.

i started dating the tapes during 'all hope is blind' just to see how our process 'flows' and basically it revealed to me how difficult it would be for an outside source to document the making of any of my records. i've been in this coffee shop for far too long and must go.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


it's been an obscenely long time since i've posted anything here. i'd like to say it's because things have been going so well i haven't been too worried about too much, but really it's mostly the same worries as always. being at work is still the same kind of never-ending endurance test that it is for pretty much everyone. i wasn't too worried about the show at the empty bottle on sunday. i did have a dream last night that we were running late getting there. i guess i'm more worried about getting to the show than playing the show itself. it is kind of weird though, i still haven't heard back from chris about whether or not he'll be able to play it. very strange. i'm beginning to think he's not going to be there. he has other things to worry about though, so i'm not upset at him. i'm more bummed because i feel like he's going to be disappointed that he couldn't make it and that we had to play without him. understandably that probably isn't the best feeling.
the bad yelp reviews are back at beans and bagels. i'd really like to think that people are mostly good at heart, but the more i'm around people, the more i know them the more i'm seeing how a disheartening amount of people are just entitled, whiny little babies. it's just a question of degrees. there's a point where i'm in that boat, but i don't feel entitled to anything- that's usually what i'm upset about. people are just so quick to judge and dismiss and draw such definitive conclusions based off of almost nothing. when it's turned on them, all of a sudden it's so unfair and so unjust and they start to play the part of the poor, misunderstood, sensitive soul. all of a sudden. 90% of the things i hear people get their panties in a wad about are so unbelievably trivial to me that i'm hard-pressed to recall a single one. even the recurring ones. not sure what to do about this. i try not to let it bother me because really it makes me grateful for the amount of perspective that i actually have, but nevertheless can't they just leave me alone?
the music thing isn't bugging me anymore, fortunately. i'm of the opinion so far that i've done about as much as i possibly can and all i can do is keep it going on that level. that would be an accomplishment in and of itself. i wanted to release these seven albums and it's been done. i wanted to go on tour and we've done that a few times. maybe it wasn't how we imagined it, but really would we be any better off if we had booking agents and a label behind us? most likely no. would we have been able to get all of the music out that we wanted to do with a label behind us? no way in hell. would more people have heard us because of this? not necessarily. so now, all of a sudden, i have this giant body of work that i'm ridiculously proud of that i built from the ground up with very little help- it's definitely nothing to sneeze at. if other people don't notice it, that's not for me to worry about. just the fact that it was done at all is quite a beautiful thing. the more shows we play the more i put together songs and play them for and with other people the more i realise that i have written a bunch of songs that i really really love and if i came across them i would love them to death. they are exactly how i feel about things and view the world. we are also a formidable live band, which i'm incredibly proud of. being overlooked is almost just another ace in the hole. black tambourine only played a few shows that weren't really attended well at all. that doesn't change the fact that they wrote and recorded some amazing songs.
where i am with the october tour is that i'm hoping it comes together, but if it doesn't, it doesn't. stefanie won't be able to go along on the whole thing- she can't get two weeks off at her job yet. i actually rehearsed the songs just playing them in arrangements just for me and they worked just fine. touring alone would kind of suck, but if that's how it has to be, that's how it has to be. it'd be good to get out of town and hopefully sell some of those records. so there you go. i'm proud of what i've done and i'll continue to do it for as long as i can. the series of 7"es is coming along nicely as well. most of the tracks have already been finished on my part for a very long time.