Thursday, April 30, 2009

Poster 2 in Series

I'm really starting to get a feel for how I'd like these posters to look. The first black and white one I posted a couple days ago is definitely going in the "do not use" file! haha I think it might be more appropriate for use in advertising a show maybe..not really for the actual album release. Check out the 2nd poster design in this series.

Photo by Melissa Ann Xenakis

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Poster Design 2

Yesterday I posted a design for the first poster promoting What To Keep & Let Go. Here is another with a little different feel. I'm trying to figure out if the one from yesterday will even work in a series of promotional material, having a different font and all that. I really like the direction of this one so we'll see. It's also the same font as the blog header and album art. Oh, did I mention that my talented girlfriend, Melissa, took this photo?? Well..she did! Gotta get her into the studio for more poster art shots...

Electric Candle burned bright!

Finally, we got the take of Electric Candle we were looking for! Last night as I drove to the studio I had a lot of confidence that I'd nail the song that has been the hardest for me to get right. So upon entering the recording area I thought that maybe we could try a few new things. First off, I thought maybe standing up and playing/singing would be better for my breathing as I think my diaphragm was too compacted while sitting in the chair. So we gave that a go and it did seem like my singing was right on! The only thing that didn't work at that point was my guitar. For some reason when I stand and play I have a hard time keeping a more uniform strumming pattern going. So about after four or so takes (all of which were pretty good), we decided to revisit the sitting down method of recording. To my surprise my vocals were still good and guitar playing definitely stronger! I am happy to say that after about three more takes, we got the one we wanted. :)

Posting photos and video soon.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

You Will Know. 2009

A while back I set a completion date of May 26th for What to Keep & Let Go. I later modified this by saying it'd be simply done in the spring. Now, even this is becoming tentative. haha No worries, however. Let's just simply say it is coming in 2009. :) Here is the first working poster design for the album that states a very vague release date indeed! For now, anyway.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Electric Candle, April 22nd

Here are some shots from the session on April 22nd.

Photos by Melissa Ann Xenakis

Electric Candle Problems

Took a second stab at Electric Candle on April 22nd at Fat Dave's Place. I was definitely not in the groove. Not really sure what my issue was but it was a very unsuccessful night at recording. I can't seem to get my breathing down right and it tends to make me really dizzy! haha Oh well, we'll get the take eventually.

"String Orchestra Joining it Doesn't Really Remind Me of An Attic"

True Marcin, true. But I still can't help loving that sound! The idea of course is to keep Electric Candle relatively simple to mimic the "alone" feeling I had when writing it. Maybe we can sneak those jumpy little notes in there somewhere at the end tho! I do love them!

Bass for DWYC

This midi keyboard is so rad. Here is Marcin working on the bass line for Do What You Can.

Do What You Can, April 21st

The last song to really figure out the direction of is Do What You Can. On April 21st, Marcin and I got a lot figured out. I especially like the ending we are working with..more backups planned and a great drum part inserted. I have no idea but this direction reminds me of an old Kenny Loggins song called "Conviction of the Heart". Random, I know. haha Check it out!

Video Update!

Things have been a little slow lately with all of us having things going on in our everyday lives. But that's okay. As Dave Eastman says: "...we might be a little behind schedule, but thats alright- nothing good ever got finished on time." Well said Dave, well said.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What a strange night.

This could have been one of the more interesting practices, combining Mr. Rogers Neighborhood piano sounds with some crazy photography. We were big goofs and didn't get much done. But hey, still fun!

Photos by Amy Miller

Gotta "Do What You Can"

Here we are listening to the demo of Do What You Can. This is the last song on the album that we need to figure out a direction for.

"I just wonder!"

Marcin loves to try out different sounds that are a little bit unexpected. haha Here he is taking a rather different approach to the song Do What You Can. His experimentation leads to some pretty awesome stuff sometimes.... and I gotta admit, the islandy sound has a fun feel! Maybe that's because I'm going on a cruise to the Bahamas next weekend. Can't wait for those yellow birds! yum!

Monday, April 20, 2009

"Like the buds on a newborn tree...your tale is hardly told..."

I went into the studio on April 14th to record an acoustic version of the song May, written in response to my mom's ironic death during a time of growth and new life. Chad Macomber and I recorded a full rock version in college maybe about 9 or so years ago but I have always wanted to have a more intimate side of the song for people to hear. On May 26th, I plan on releasing it online along with Ask You. Here are some photos from the session.

Lyric trouble with May

I had the hardest time remembering a specific lyric in May. Not sure why...

Whistle while you work...

...especially if it's the only way to get across an idea for a solo! Here is Dave working on figuring out a slide guitar version of the solo that Chad Macomber came up with for May many years ago.

"I'm a control master!"

I had a chance to sit and work the sound booth while Dave recorded a solo for the acoustic version of May. I was so excited. haha

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Passing Into April...I mean August.

Spring. Barbecue. Song reconstruction. Nice.

Tired & Wacky.

This is what happens to us at the end of the night. "Sweet"

The Keys.

Hard at work on the keyboard while I annoyingly document it. haha

"Even better than the real thing?"

So Marcin is convinced that Garageband drums sound just as authentic as a real drum kit! I tend to agree but worry about the consistency of the drums that have already been recorded by Cullen. I think we'll still have him record Passing Into August based on what we have come up with digitally. But they do sound great! Somethin' to think about next go-around tho!

Drum Kits!

Marcin and I spent some time figuring out the best sound for the drums in Passing Into August. Gotta love midi keyboards and Garageband drum kits! The convenience is astounding!

High Hopes.

Marcin likes to show me his musical influences before we start in with our practice. It's great because we can kind of open our minds to all sorts of things as they pertain to the direction of these songs. I definitely have "High Hopes" for this album and I'm not at all worried with Marcin on board to help!

Stephen Hawkings??

Who the hell is Stephen Hawkings? hahaha Oh the great mysteries of post practice video clips.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Getting Dizzy!

Something tells me it's NOT a good sign. haha I must work on my breathing so I don't pass out after singing a song this relaxing. haha

Dry Throat.

I drink too much coffee I think.

I need to stop being afraid.

Dave and I are working on creating a space and sound that will best represent the night I recorded Electric Candle in the attic room. He backed the chair into the corner of the studio space facing several different mics, all arranged differently around the room. We also decided it'd be best for me to sing as if I'm trying to keep quiet so I don't "wake anyone in the house". I think it's going to work out rather well.

The Mic Stylings of Mr. Eastman

The one thing I love about working with Dave is his attention to detail with his mic setups. That, and how he always has tea for me. haha

Thursday, April 9, 2009

An Electric Candle sits with me...

Anyone who possesses the original demo tracks of What To Keep & Let Go may be all too familiar with the mouse clicks, chair creaks or Instant Message beeps in and around the songs. Some, and I can name a few, have actually gotten quite accustomed if not fond of these little dashes of imperfection and realism...after all, the songs were all recorded down in one take to get a basic idea; caring about what sounds were in the room were not too much of a concern.

But what if these listeners actually find themselves missing the demo tracks and what made them so real and in the moment? Granted we at the studio haven't necessarily been bogged down by perfect tempos and rattle-free bass strings. Things still are sounding pretty natural and interesting. But alas, I have realized it would in fact be nice to keep a little bit of the demo quality in at least one of the songs in the final record. And I believe that Electric Candle is the perfect candidate.

Recorded in the attic of my friend Chad's house on a cold December night in 2007, Electric Candle could be my most honest and intimate song on the record. I wrote it after walking away from what could have been a very loving and meaningful relationship; however I just didn't want it. Was I not ready? Perhaps. Afraid? Most definitely. Love has always been something I have handled with caution. I've never been proud of how I react to getting too close to that night was particularly sad having ran away yet again..

So needless to say, I felt really alone. The only thing that was with me in that room that made any sense was one of those Christmas candles that plugged into the wall and glowed in the window all season long. I found a lot of comfort in that one little light and so the song was born. The attic room was very small; low angled roof, one window, one door...but very comfortable. I'll always remember the space. It's modesty and peacefulness was the perfect setting for quiet and heartfelt song writing, video journals about my disease and low light thinking sessions.

So naturally it seems more than appropriate to try and recreate this setting while recording Electric Candle. Retaining the natural feel is something Dave and I are striving to do for this song. Backing me into a corner, miking the room from all different angles and allowing my tired voice to come through are ways of really capturing the feeling I had on that cold winter night. And to add even more to the mood of the song, I have decided it's best to tone down the energy of my strumming; plucking without a pick as well as singing the song in more of a whisper than my full out voice. In addition, Dave and I find it best conceptually to have this song be just me and my guitar; the song deals so much with being alone and not letting anyone else in that it only makes sense to record it that way as well. I regret to inform Adrian Newkirk of this news as I was really looking forward to having him play on it. However, I do wish to stick with that concept and I'm sure he'll understand. Perhaps I can find a place for him somewhere else on the album!

So as we work to get the right feel for this song, (there is even an idea floating around to record it on a nice rainy night, capturing the sounds of the rain to create a nice ambiance and atmosphere), I will continue to keep in mind the concepts of the album, what makes each song unique and how best to record them; I believe I wrote about Hello, Amy a while back and the concept brewing behind its recording method.

It's all coming together!

The Rhythm Section

Here are some shots from April 5th's practice session of the boys providing the beats and bass. Couldn't do this without them.

Enter Cullen Corley!

Cullen joined our Thursday night practice on April 2nd and we all had a chance to work together on Passing into August. He needs to bring his bongo set next time...he looks bored! haha

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Reworking Passing into August

We're still playing around a bit with the Passing into August pre-chorus and chorus section. It's getting there....and BOY do I need to work on my vocals...geeez..

Things change.

Enough said.

I hang a heart around my neck.

I found my necklace in this position the other morning. Love.

"My head is just kinda...everywhere!"

I found this video from a recording session back on March 3rd. I guess I forgot to post it but here it is!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Inspiration.

"I hope you're proud of what I've done and who I have become..."

Ask You Lyrics

I found the very first ever hand written draft of the lyrics to Ask You. There are parts that aren't even in the song anymore!