Monday, October 21, 2013

Long time no write..

There's been a lot of action since my last blog update. I figured before I fall into another long stretch of sessions, I ought to update this ol' blog.

Let's get down to business!

Things have been busy at Sonelab. It's really been awesome to work on such a great and diverse grouping of bands in the same space. Sometimes it's hard to find time to experiment when you're on the clock but since I've gotten so efficient in our space, I've been able to try things out without spending too much time with setup.

Before we get into that, I'm going to get you up to speed on some projects that I've been involved with since my last update.

Western Mass delicacy Blessed State came in to finish overdubs. We layered a lot of guitars and grabbed vocals for everything all in one day. It was exciting.. not a dull moment. Lots of Marshalls and Neumann u67 going on.

Our old Marsh cab with my favorite guitar mics planted right on it.
Deploying our beautiful RCA stand for 14' Coles room mics.

The very next day, Tom Cain came into Sonelab with his band. We essentially cut the entire record in two days. it was a lot of fun! The setup was acoustic/electric guitar, vocals, drums, bass, and keys all live in one room. This was a great session for me because it was the first time I used Coles 4038s for overheads. Why did I wait this long you ask? Part of the reason is that I've never had a microphone stand capable of holding one, let alone two Coles 4038s at the appropriate height. The other part is that it's never been a sound I've wanted to get.. until I tried it and realized that it's a sound I've always wanted to hear on playback.

I liked the sound so much while dialing in the drum kit, that I took it one step further by sending them through my ADR Compex. HOT DAMN.. It's a sound we've all heard. Completely classic and exciting. I honestly don't think there's another way to dial that in, either.. I suppose a Fairchild 670 would do..

Just a few days later, Hayward Williams came in to track his forthcoming long player. Hot on the sounds of Tom Cain's session, I put up the Coles/Compex setup. The drummer was Billy Conway. He's one of my alltime favorite musicians to work with. He's an amazing mind to have on your session. His drumming ain't bad, either! We needed to track a lot of vocals and acoustic instruments live, so we put Billy in the booth. The drums sounded quite 70s! Yes, the drums sounded great, but so did the songs and musicianship all around. 

Billy Conway's kit in the iso. 70s style.

My next session was in Brooklyn at a great studio called Seaside Lounge. The client was Al Huckabee. He'd written a handful of really f-ing awesome songs and had a bunch of great fellas on the job. We all had a ton of fun and were super productive. The songs go from Stonesy to Gram Parsons vibes. Altogether a unique look at classic sounds with a really great and diverse group of musicians. Since I was batting 1000 with the Coles/Compex thing, I made sure to pack the rig up so I could do it again in Brooklyn. I'm mixing those tracks as I type this and I'm SO glad I stuck with that setup!

I'm crazy.

I got home from Brooklyn, enjoyed two days off and hit the studio with Caught On Tape and Chelsea Light Moving. We grabbed a lot of improvs on the first day, and mixed them. The second day was focused on grabbing CLM's new tunes. We tracked and mixed all 3 that day and are currently undergoing mastering/late mix revisions. It all should be done soon. It's another winner!

Thurston Moore's Caught On Tape/Chelsea Light Moving rig
John Moloney's Caught On Tape/Chelsea Light Moving rig.

I'll breeze through a few more things:

-Blessed State: mixed! Mastered, even!
-Tongue Oven: mixed.. ALMOST DONE!
-Twenty Three Quartet: TRACKED AND MIXED! That was fun!
-Lost Twin: full length tracked on tape in two days!! Just needs vocals/mixing (no Coles/Compex overheads on this record)!!

Lost Twin is part of the Sonelab Eurocar family.

After all of that madness, Jeph Jacques from the comic Questionable Content came in to record his solo instrumental metal project Deathmole. We knocked out the record in 4 days and started mixing on the 5th. I could write a book about this session. I did a lot of things I don't normally do.. and got results I was VERY pleased with. I think Jeph was, too! We finish this record and start another one next week.

Last week Caitlin Canty came in for 4 days to record her forthcoming full length. Once again with Jeffery Foucalt producing/guitar/vocals, Billy Conway drums, Jeremy Moses Curtis on bass, Eric Heywood on pedal steel/lead guitar, and Matt Lorenz was our utility man on BVs/guitar/violin/pump organ. This was an exhausting session for me. I was running Pro Tools and tape at the same time, making sure the right people had the right instruments mic'd up (lots of switching it up). As draining as this session was, I think everyone walked away very proud of the good work we'd all done. Caitlin sang her heart out into that u67 for four days straight and didn't flinch once. We tracked upwards of 20 songs. I have no idea what will be on the record.. but there's not question that it'll be beautiful.

Billy Conway's kit for a different session, in our live room.
Eric Heywood's pedal steel/guitar rig set up in our drum room.

Like I wrote earlier.. I'm mixing Al Huckabee's record as I type this update. I'm at the end of the first day, sitting here, reviewing my work for the day. I'm pleased. Very much so! These songs are sounding very full, even with fairly sparse arrangements. The songs are rocking but quite delicate. Because of the sparseness, things should be "just so". In addition to that, all of the playing was so intentional. My goal is to not fuck it up - and I think I'm doing ok..Though I'm really psyched on using my Ampex 440 for tape delay and sending it through my Mutron Phasor on the way back to my console ;)

Rocking tape delay for Al Huckabee's record.
I fell in love with that there Northern Electric Vari-Mu.

In closing: I'm really excited about the very busy fall/winter I have ahead of me! There are so many great new projects in the works and finishing up some really fun projects I've already started!

I've been getting more and more requests to work on projects from out of town bands and I must say: it's something I really enjoy. I love working with people who aren't somehow related to the regional network of musicians. There definitely some excitement on both sides of the glass with such a new situation. The social aspect and the musical aspects are really unique and cool. And I'm not knockin the work I get to do with the fantastic local community I live in! It's the best and being here has allowed me to work on some of the best projects I've ever been a part of.

..So if you're a band from out of town that's interested in coming out to little old western Massachusetts to make some music, please reach out. There are a lot of great reasons to do it.

Julia and I are expecting a little one in Feb and we're both beyond excited about it. We're enjoying Autumn together and preparing our house for its new addition. It's all so exciting - yet I'm still pinching myself. Perhaps he or she will be part of the next wave of engineers.. if so, I promise to introduce she/he to analog signal flow before it gets anywhere near a computer ;)