Archive for the ‘Studio Night’ Category


Los Mass

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Plastic hand loves los Mass

On our last studio night, KB and I spent the evening (and I mean the entire evening) getting two good guitar tracks for an upcoming song (currently called “What’s Mine Is Mine”). We wanted to get a good dose of feedback, and a nice crunchy tube sound for the tracks. We’ve been using the Egnator Tweaker and of course the Marshall JCM800 (RIP Jim Marshall ­čÖü ) with pretty good results, but KB recently acquired a little box that may improve things even more.

It’s a speaker attenuator made by the folks at Weber, and it’s called the “Mini Mass“. In our typical verbal shorthand we now refer to it as “los Mass”. Essentially it allows us to drive the tubes in the amp harder without deafening ourselves or the neighbors. We match the impedance of los Mass with the speakers we’re driving, select some amount of treble to restore to the signal, and then control the output volume using the rheostat-like dial.

We found that generating very tasty feedback was a snap, even at lower speaker volumes, and the tone we got from the amps was smooth and crunchy. Like, you know, peanut butter on melba toast.

I surmise that we will be using this little devil a lot in the future.



Studio night: surprise cover [part 2]

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

So there we were, only a couple rounds of idea juice into the evening and suddenly ready to tool around with covering an old Tubes song. The rhythm track I set up was similar in tempo, but a lot more “drunkdude-like”, and Mike and K jumped onboard immediately.

Within a few takes we had some cool rhythmic ideas. I wound up muting my demo tracks – the keyboard bass was just annoying, and my guitar track was just getting in the way of some of the new ideas, not to mention out of tune. We wound up spending the evening running through the song and getting a general structure together.

Overall I’m pretty excited. I can tell I like the idea because I’ve been listening to it repeatedly, tweaking ideas for melody and other parts. Hopefully we’ll be able to get it dialed in a little bit for some drum tracking in December. I think it would make an interesting addition to the next record.

Studio night: surprise cover

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Apparently I get a lot of mileage out of commuting. Yes, that’s a terrible pun and I’m just not sorry.

With about two hours in the car every day I’ve got plenty of time to listen to all kinds of music. Songs we’re working on, new music from artists I’ve been turned on to by friends (Cage the Elephant is a new favorite), classical music (more on that in a different blog entry). Sometimes I don’t listen to anything at all except the wheels on the road – when traffic is moving.

It being rush hours and all, there are plenty of jackass drivers that keep things interesting with their various clever driving┬ámaneuvers. As one of these overly excitable folks veered into the space in front of me after passing a long line of stopped vehicles, I muttered to myself, “There’s always somebody else in line, pal.”

That reminded me of something, and it took much of the drive thinking about it before I remembered. It was a line from an old Tubes song called “Gonna Get It Next Time”. I remembered the song because I loved the movie “Modern Problems” as a kid, and that was the song during the opening credits (I think). I thought it might be a cool DD69 cover.

I thought about it all day, and by the time I got home I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do. I threw down a quick demo, and when Mike and K-Billy showed up for studio night I told them about the idea. Neither one of them remembered the original version of the song, so I played them just a little bit to give them an overall idea of it. I wanted to get a new spin on it, though, so I didn’t play the Tubes version again after that. The guys seemed somewhat interested, and I was pretty insistent, so we decided to play around with it a bit.

I had the basic rhythm track – a loop, a keyboard bass, electric guitar and guide vocal. The next step was to run through it and see what the guys could come up with…

(To be continued)

Studio night: mix tweaking

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Getting closer

We spent studio night listening through and finishing mixes for the upcoming record. With Beamer and KBilly adding some fresh ears, and Mike contributing some notes as well, we were able to knock out tweaks to about 90% of the material.

I can’t stress how great it was to have other people listening to the mixes with fresh perspectives. In an effort to maximize our time, I try to get the mixes dialed in as much as possible before everyone else comes over. That way they don’t have to sit through me doing hours of vocal edits, drum track cleanup, cross-fades, comping, blah blah blah.

The tough part of getting the stuff ready like that, though, is that after I’ve listened to the mix about one quadrillion times, I almost don’t know what I’m listening to anymore. Are the drums too loud or not loud enough? Should I juice the guitars more (ROCK!) or take it easy (boo, hiss!). Are the vocals coming through? Maybe I should just re-record the whole song…

Yes, it’s a descent into auditory madness. So when everyone else takes a listen, they can offer valuable suggestions that I might never have heard. Thanks, guys.

We got a little burned out on mix number nine, so we’ll pick up with it tomorrow or Friday, and we have a little bit of tracking to do to fix/finish a couple songs. We should still be able to get the songs out for mastering by Saturday. At least that’s the current fantasy.

Song evolution (part 2: a rough edit)

Monday, May 9th, 2011

It's like soup for your ears.

Continuing from part 1 (a jam), we pick up with the evolution of the song “The Next Minute” which will be included on our upcoming record As Big As You Can Get It.

Typically after a studio night is over, the guys head home and I stay up until the wee hours trying to slice and dice the 12 – 20 minutes of amorphous jamming into some kind of rough song structure. I might add some different loops or drum parts, and I’ll usually find the best parts of the jam (a.k.a. the parts where we aren’t just sucking completely) and move them around.

Usually the first edit winds up being pretty simple: verse + chorus. ┬áNo bridge, no intros or other bits. Sometimes we don’t even get a chorus.┬áI also try to give the rough edit some kind of placeholder name. The rough edit had a kind of driving feel that reminded me of Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks”, so I tagged the song idea as “Keep Raining”.

In this case we got what we felt was a solid verse along with a bass break. We didn’t really have a defined chorus, but this first edit gave us a seed that we could water (with idea juice, of course) and cultivate into something bigger and better.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Coming up: the demo edit