Rick's Rap - January 2006
We took a couple of weeks off during the holidays. Eric used the time to cull the basement tapes and create what he felt was a better demo. He mailed me a copy and sent us an email saying he has a painless plan to get us out of the basement. Bob came to my house last night, and we listened to Eric's demo, and then re-listened to Dave's demo.
When Eric told us that he was sufficiently unhappy with what we're doing, to not want to do it anymore, I felt kinda bad for a number of reasons. After listening to the two cd's, however, I'm thinkin' there was some kind of fundamental disconnect in what we're going for, and his decision was probably for the best. His cd was processed to the point of sounding almost like a full band, and Dave's cd mix was pretty much like an unplugged performance.
I sent a bass player that I know an email to arrange getting together with him to see how we sound. For now, at least, our plan is to just keep plugging ahead.
Last night we got together with the bass player, a fella named Joe, and ran through a few tunes and taped them. For the first tune I was overdriving the cassette recorder, and the recording quality kinda sucks, after that the recording quality is pretty good.
I just finished posting the recordings. Here's the good part, although Bob was sick, I was messing with the recording, and Joe didn't know the tunes, the natural blend was great, even though the performances were a little rough.
Next week Joe's gonna bring over a mic and we'll see about trying to work in the extra vocal. I don't want to jinx anything, but maybe this is the mix that'll finally work.
Joe and Bob showed up for acoustic rehearsal last night. The first thing we did was critique the tapes from last week. Aside from the obvious glitches in the performances, we decided that even though they had a good mix and a nice groove, overall they were just too slow (think Grateful Dirge).
We decided to speed them up a bit ... sounds simple enough doesn't it? Well, as it turns out, we were amazed at how many subtle changes were required in the way almost every part had to be phrased in order to jack up the tempos just a tad without totally blowing the groove. It was a lot more work than we had anticipated, but after listening to the tapes I believe it was clearly well worth the effort. We had been tentatively planning on going to College Perk next Tuesday to try them out, but we've decided to give them another week in reheasal in the hope that the new tempos will gel.
Joe brought his mic over, but we spent so much time on the tempo changes that we didn't get around to trying any vocals with him. He also brought a harmonica, and we did at least add a smidgen of that to the opening of "A Pirate Looks At Forty".
On the technical front, the tapes came out very noisy this time, and I had to put quite a bit of effort into noise reduction just to get something adequate for posting. This might have partly been because I reused the tapes from the previous week, but I don't think that could account for how much the noise increased as compared to the previous taping. I'm pretty sure it's because I made life easy on myself and turned the recording level down quite a bit from the previous setting. That way I could ignore the recording level indicator and concentrate on my playing, and still be sure that we weren't overdriving the tape. Of course that meant I had to turn the volume up on the tape playback when I was transferring the tracks to my hard drive, which unfortunately also turned the volume up on the quiesent tape noise. Sigh.
For decent taping quality, I'm going to have to make reasonably hot recordings. To avoid having to dick with the level settings for each song (which is not only a pain in the butt, but will also eat up precious rehearsal time), we'll have to spend a little time up front getting a comfortable ambient room sound level, then set the recording level for this volume, and then make an effort not to mess with our volume controls as we move from song to song.
Bob and Joe came by tonight. We did a run through of Around and Around, just to warm up. Then we decided that the only real problems with last week's tapes were the marginal recording quality, and a few scattered brain farts in the performances, so we moved on. We recorded Dark Hollow, Deal, Dire Wolf, and Mama Tried. Joe wasn't at all familiar with the first three, but he did an impressive job of picking them up.
At the moment, our plan is to hit the College Perk open mic next week, and then come back here the following week and try to capture some adequate performances of the tunes we did tonight.