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Recent goings-on at Famous London Recording Studio:

On Thursday night Yon and I worked on what is shaping up to be the penultimate song on Matthew Lovelace's upcoming full length.  At least for now.  The song is called "Steel Guitar", and we hope to have a version posted to the Migrant Song of the Day soon.  Just gotta get some vocals on it first.

Later Thursday night Kym and Eric of Plainclothes Tracy stopped by to hammer out some details for the recording of *their* upcoming full length.  Plus, Eric had never seen the studio.  Anyway, it was very productive...and I'm really stoked to begin working with them.

On Saturday, Yon and I reconvened to work on "Steel Guitar" for the entire afternoon, culminating in what is now informally referred to as Steel Guitar Day.  Two basses, three guitars, kick drum, and some tambourine were all added to the track.  Once we have a Steel Guitar Day II, the song'll be really cooking. 

This week: more Hudson K?  More Kym overdubs onto Matthew's tracks?  Maybe some "Zombies!" work?  Time will tell.    
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So over Christmas break Matthew Lovelace got to come visit for almost a week, and in that time we got to work on his album.  It'd been awhile, and while Fred and I had done some work on it on our own, we were starting to lose the feeling that we all knew what we were trying to do and where we wanted it to go.

What an awesome week that turned out to be.

Some of the demos he brought in were good enough to use as final tracks, and between the work we got in on those and the work we did on pre-existing tracks, we got together almost the entire album.  It's not finished, and all these songs might not make it (I've got 12 "definites" on my iTunes right now, but there are at least that many waiting in the wings that we could work up pretty quickly), but now there's a shape.  I can listen to all that we've worked on, and there's a flow from song to song.

This is probably my favorite part of making albums.  The bones are almost all there.  It's just about fleshing things out now.  Adding parts (or whole songs, even), changing the order around, thinking about the tone and feel.  It's turning out a little quieter and more low-key than I'd expected.  I'm excited for people to hear it.

(Parenthetically, this is also my favorite part of making albums because I can hear past the mistakes.  Anything that's not right is just an opportunity to make the song better.  This is in stark contrast to the deflation of getting a CD back from the presses and listening for the first time.  "Well, that's not right.  And it's there.  FOREVER."  (Second parenthetical: this feeling goes away after a couple of months.))

Still, there's a feeling that maybe the whole form is going to disappear.  Not music, obviously.  But as the media for music pushes towards electronic only, and people more and more buy music by the song, making a whole album seems like an archaic idea.

But I don't care.  I still love collecting songs into groups of 10-14 and trying to get them to add up to something greater than the sum.

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Hard Drives and Memory
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Recently recorded folks:
  • Tommy Bateman (December, solo recording with Yon)
  • Matthew Lovelace (week surrounding New Year's, for upcoming full length CD)
  • Hudson K (throughout January, for EP due April)
  • Kym Hawkins of Plainclothes Tracy (vocal dubs onto a few of Lovelace's tracks)
  • Rachel Schlafer-Parton (flute on Zombies! musical; cello on Lovelace track)

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Rachel S-P came by last night with her compadre and bandmate Christina Horn to dub some flute onto one of the Hudson K songs we're working on.  Turned out great.  A bass part was nixed.  Banjo was given the green light, although it was suggested that we use a clawhammer banjo with nylon strings for an "older" sound (essentially, the sound of gut...ew).  Rachel will provide that.  It was a good idea.  The song's coming together well.  Oh, and Rachel's one hell of a flutist.
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Whew.  It's been seventeen weeks since our last journal entry, says the hand-dandy Live Journal welcome screen.  When you put it like *that*...!  I suppose I better get crackin' on filling you in on our progress over the last few months.

I'd like to think that the fact that we haven't written---we've been so damned busy---is actually a *good* thing.  I'm a pretty good hype guy ("hypist"? "hypewriter"?), but I've kind of lost the desire to hype recently...I feel like we've been putting our money where our mouths are, so we haven't had the time or energy or desire to hype it all.  I think the results of our labor will be hype enough.  We'll see.

Most recently, we've been in contact with Team Clermont, arguably the finest independent music promoters in the entire country.  I sent them a copy of the Rockwells' most recent CD, Place & Time.  I wasn't expecting such a quick and enthusiastic response.  Within 48 hours of sending them our music, they got back to us and strongly encouraged us to promote the CD through them.  We've had some more email correspondence, and we have a conference call scheduled for this afternoon.  It's all very exciting, and a little scary.  After doing so much of this kind of promotion stuff on our own, it's thrilling to be working with someone who seems to give a damn, but it's also slightly freaky, as it could lead to a lot of great things...or it could all be a dead end and we'll be on our own yet again.  Over all, very cool.

The upcoming Migrant Sampler is moving along at fever pitch now.  The final sequence is finally taking shape, and songs are edging closer to being completely finished and ready for the mastering process.  It's all a bit out of control at the moment, but it's sounding really good.  Everyone's done such a good job on their tracks.  We hope to have everything completely done next month, October at the latest, for an autumn release.

Actually, we hope to have the bulk (if not all) of the recording and mixing done on the Sampler by the time we go to the Midpoint Music Festival in Cincy toward the end of September.  We're going for the entire fest, but we play Thursday, September 25th at 11 PM at the New Stage Collective.  It'll be great to spend some time with Tommy and Trace's sister Tricia, and to see Cincy again.  Last September was the first in four years that we didn't visit Cincinnati to play MPMF, as Sophie was born right around then.  It's good to be back.

While there, we'll be pushing our little room, long ago dubbed the Famous London Recording Studio, for semi-public use.  Tricia Bateman is very graciously designing FLRS business cards for us, and I'm working on designing a decent little site for our decent little room.  We're planning on producing songs for people and arranging for them, with an emphasis on pre-production, use of demos, and eclectic sounds.  We already have some sessions loosely booked for the fall/winter.  Whoo!

We've almost completely finished mixing J.D. Reager's new CD.  He plans on having it mastered by Memphis' own Kevin Cubbins next month.  It's been a long haul, and this is our first album we've mixed entirely within our DAW gear...so it's a very special project to us.  It feels really good to have it almost done.

After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, we've finally gotten hold of mixable masters for the Slick project.  It's a long story, and not terribly interesting to anyone outside of me, Jonathan, and Slick (or so I'm told, anyway).  But suffice it to say, the process took several tries, many man hours, and a FedEx package to Montreal.  But the results are stellar, and entirely worth it.  In fact, these new masters are probably higher fidelity than the originals.  A Slick CD is indeed coming down the pike.  And there will be a Slick track on the Migrant Sampler.  :)

Otherwise, it's sort of the same ol': Matthew Lovelace is planning a visit soon to continue to work on his debut EP, and he continues to demo more songs on his new DAW rig in Athens for a follow-up full-length later on.  We haven't had much of a chance to use the new Huston drums much, as we've been focusing on dubbing and mixing.  We can't wait to get some more hours in on 'em. 

I WILL be better about journal entries.  I WILL be better about journal entries.  I WILL be better about journal entries.  I WILL be better about journal entries.  I WILL be better about journal entries...
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Okay, so the Big Day came.  The Big Day, in this case, was the Day We Got the New Huston Drums Custom Recording Drum Kit at Famous London Recording Studio.  That's a long title.  It also happened to be last Saturday, or Passover.  So we can just refer to it as "Passover" from here on out.

Anyway...on Passover, we got the kit.  A crappy photo of the kit is below.

I was trying to be all artistic and get the *grain* of the wood and all...but instead I got a shot that focused inappropriately on Yon's groin.  This was unintended. 

Still, the basic *idea* comes across pretty clearly: the drums are gorgeous.  They're not wrapped, simply sealed with tung oil.  There are three toms: 12 inch, 14 inch, and 16 inch.  They're relatively shallow and they sound MASSIVE.  The 14 and 16 inch toms are floor tom-style, with spurs.  The kick drum is 22 inches and is really, really focused.  We'll probably take off the front head and put our Super Kick II batter head on it, but for now all four pieces have Fiberskyn heads (it's always good to keep and save heads, anyway, as they're expensive and can create a different sound when used, as with different sticks and cymbals).

We haven't yet had time to actually do any work with the new Famous London Studio kit.  Dammit.  But hopefully we'll find some time this weekend.  With the two shows coming up this week (plus a couple of rehearsals), any studio time has come at a premium.  I had to pop over at 8:30 this morning to wrap up a mix of "We Haven't Been to Tunisia" for today's Migrant Song of the Day.  It is available, naturally, at www.migrantrecords.com.

The song is coming along really well, by the way.  It's not "done", really, but it's very close.  Once we get a few more Zombies! songs done, we'll be able to post them on the MySpace page and really start plugging the project.  I think there's a lot there for people to grab onto: humor, action, suspense, weirdness, and fun.  And good music, in my opinion.  We just need to keep plugging away at it.

Justin was in town over the weekend.  He was in town to visit rather than to work, so we didn't get any further with "Where You Gonna Go" quite yet.  In fact, most people's April seems to be pretty wall-to-wall busy.  Several of the guys we're working with are in school (one's getting a masters, another's getting a PhD!), so this time of year's just naturally going to be pretty bad for them.  But come May...look out!

Another drum photo, you say?  Well, you can just forget it, pal!

That's Huston, setting everything up with Yon.  Yes, he's wearing gloves.  He takes his work that seriously, and considering the quality of the drums, I can't say I blame him.  It makes me feel guilty in advance for most assuredly nicking up the drums at several points in the future.  Sigh.  But for the moment, they're pristine.  Yet, they're made to be hit hard.  Something to think about.  Zen, and all.  Circle of Life, man.

Had a really good Rockwells rehearsal last night.  We're gonna be good and ready for Thursday.  Thunder Thieves rehearsal tonight.  That's gonna make for a great Friday show.  We're all pretty darned stoked.  Live performance isn't necessarily where my head's at right now, but the other guys love it, and frankly, once I get there and get to *playing*, I have just as much of a blast as they do.  Must promote those shows in MySpace.

In other Migrant news, Yon and I started mixing J.D. Reager's upcoming CD last week.  It's still in the early stages, and we're kind of slow at it all, so who knows when it'll all get done.  But J.D. is unsure as to how he wants to release it regardless...and he wants to try to get a friend of his to do the mastering (we're going to heartily recommend he use our friend Mark Yoshida).  So there are a lot of variables in the air.  Less pressure for us, which is good.  The more time we have to put into the project, the better it will sound.  And it's already sounding pretty cool.  Work, work, work!

There's more, I'm sure, but I need to post this and get back to work.

Current Location: workin'
Current Mood: groggy groggy
Current Music: "Dirty Day" by U2

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Band Name: Refried Moses.  Or maybe some sort of condiment for church picnics.  Either one.

Blue-eyed soul is soul music made by white folks.  What about Blues made by white folks?  Green-eyed blues?  Brown-eyed Susan?  Hm. 

Ordered a second hard drive and more memory for the Famous London Studio's recording compy last week.  Got it and installed it this weekend.  Album title: "Hard Drives and Memory".  Ran it by Yon.  He hates it.  I pushed home the idea of the double meaning.  He hated it even more.

There's no accounting for taste.

Current Location: Someplace served by the TVA
Current Mood: mischievous mischievous
Current Music: Best of the Monkees

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I have this sheet of notebook paper, ripped out of a wire-bound notebook I used to take notes in back when I was taking masters classes at the University of Memphis.  It's dated 25 March 2000.

There aren't really any notes on the paper.  There are a few Rockwells songs listed on the page, with proposed section changes for them.

At the bottom, though, is the track listing for the White Album.  And next to that is a track listing I concocted, assuming that the White Album needed to be condensed into a single record/tape/CD.

The track listing is as follows:

Side One:

  1. Back In the USSR
  2. Dear Prudence
  3. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  4. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
  5. I'm So Tired
  6. Blackbird
  7. I Will
  8. Julia

Side Two:

  1. Birthday
  2. Everybody's Got Something To Hide (Except For Me And My Monkey)
  3. Sexy Sadie
  4. Helter Skelter
  5. Long Long Long
  6. Revolution I
  7. Cry Baby Cry
  8. Good Night
That's making the assumption that the vinyl could have fit sixteen songs.  If not, then the two to cut would have been (according to me then) Long Long Long and Good Night.  But with sixteen songs, that would mean:

Eight for John
Five for Paul
Two for George
One for Ringo

...which is a pretty accurate track assignment for a Beatles album of that time.  And John really did have an amazing batch of songs coming out of his time recharging with the Maharishi...

Anyway.  I wonder if others have put together their ideal "Single Album White Album".  I'm a nerd.  And obviously college classes never much kept my attention...

Current Location: Eatin'
Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music: DS9: "For the Uniform"

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