Archive for the ‘Recording’ Category

 

For this 6/9, we present: The Pint of No Return

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Oh hi!

We’ve been quietly laboring under our little DD69 rock to bring you a new record on this, our most favorite of favoritest holidays, the 9th of June. Please enjoy our return to ska-rock form with our newest release “The Pint of No Return”. You can name your price for downloads (yes, FREE, even), so go get some!

Undoubtedly we will bring you more details about some of the music and the inspirations behind it, but it’s late and we should get some rest now.

Okay, maybe just one more nightcap…

Drum session at Lava Room Recording

Friday, August 15th, 2014
Studio A at Lava Room

Studio A at Lava Room Recording

I had the pleasure of going to Cleveland’s Lava Room Recording studio on Thursday to cut drum tracks for several tunes for our upcoming album. Lava Room is located in the Agora building, a storied concert venue since 1986 (although the building itself dates back to 1913). I saw many shows there in the mid- to late-1990s including a mind-blowing early Wilco show among others.

Lava Room had been recommended by several of my fellow musicians including Jeff Endemann who cut his solo album there not long ago.  Last year around this time I did a similar drum session for some material of my own. I was very happy with the results, and I opted to do another drums session for these DD69 songs. I was fortunate to get Chris Ebbert to engineer the session and Steve Renko to perform the drumming. Both of those guys are professional while at the same time personable and easy to work with. My kind of people.

Steve tracking drums

Steve tracking drums, with Chris reflected in the window

We started at about 10AM, with Steve getting drums set up while Chris and his assistants Dave and Chad set up the microphones and patched everything into the control room. Chris had dialed in some amazing drum sounds in short order, and we dove right into the recording process. It went smoothly thanks to Steve’s preparation and Chris’s facility with Pro Tools and all the associated gear. I had dropped the current sessions to stems, which are essentially submixes of separate parts (like drums, bass, rhythm instruments, vocals, etc), and that made it pretty easy to set up the sessions for drum tracking. Since most of these songs have been assembled from Studio Night jams, along with new choruses and other parts that I added later, it was much easier to use stems than to bring up the Frankenstein-like sessions themselves.

Steve did a few takes of each song, trying out some different ideas, and nailed most of them down quickly. a month or so ago I had provided him with demos of the songs to which he would be tracking, and he had charted them out beforehand and knew what he was going to do.

The exception was the most recently completed song called “Fall Back In It”. I had finished the song the weekend before the session, so it was a last-minute addition. And there was an unusual 16th note rest before the last chorus, after which I wanted the rhythm to pick up almost as if nothing had happened. We went back and forth with that concept for a while until Steve got the idea and we got the take we wanted. Aside from hashing that out, I couldn’t have asked for a session to go better.

I’m excited to finalize this batch of tunes, which has been in development for the last couple years – since our last album Get Up in 2012. Stay tuned: The Pint of No Return will be released online soon!

Playing the house

Thursday, November 1st, 2012
Stair Mic

Weird, but workable

I knew that there would be some repercussions.

When KB and I got together to work on concluding the tracking for “Get Up“, we did lots of shout-y background vocals, some other-worldly guitar noises, and liberal amounts of Kaossilator. We were left with just one thing to record: a stomp-clap part reminiscent of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”.

We considered using some loops, but decided that it would be more satisfying and potentially better-sounding if we recorded something ourselves. Plus, it would be some fun sonic experimentation! After throwing around ideas about what we could stomp or bang on (empty coolers, amp cabinets, furniture, pets), we realized that the biggest instrument available was underfoot: the house.

In particular, the stairs down to the Snoozeking lair are a fantastic example of what I like to call “cajón natural”. A huge wooden box that we could stomp on.  So we mic’ed it up. And we stomped on it.

We set up a ribbon mic under the stairs (amidst crates full of puzzles and boxes of photos), and we had a room mic for clapping and the clothes dryer (which we determined rocks out in C).  Sharing one earbud each from a pair of iPod headphones, KB and I did a few takes of stomping and clapping.

Initially the results seemed… weak. Until we employed the magic of post-processing, we thought the cause was lost. But with some compression, distortion and EQ we got what we were looking for. In this case we used the Decapitator plug-in from SoundToys (and I can’t say enough about what a worthwhile investment their plug-ins have been).

In the end it turned out to be just what we needed to give the chorus of the song that extra kick.  And we were also able to feature the “stomp” a little bit when we break down the last chorus. Check it out and let us know what you think!

It wasn’t until the next day that I found out our stomping and clapping had been shaking the whole house and waking Hellpellet up from sound slumber. Oh well, sometimes you have to sacrifice for art 😉

 

Time flies

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

We’re about a month away from our self-imposed album release date, and the virtual pressure is on. Allegedly.

Okay, it’s true – there is no real pressure. We’re just trying to stick to a schedule that insures that we don’t waste too much time fooling around. We’re actually doing okay for the most part, so we are optimistic that we’ll meet our 6/9/12 goal.

We’ve been very fortunate to collaborate with several of our friends again: Jim Evans (drums), Jeff Beam (Bass), “Coach” Hanna (drums), and Jay Goodman (vocals). They are part of the extended DD69 family that we love to collaborate with.

So here we go down the slippery slide of one month’s time, trying to finish singing, playing, mixing and mastering record number 4. More to come…

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 🙁 ) 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.