20 Dec Returning to the Music Game: The Sessions
Recording can be a bit more treacherous when you’re a dad juggling kids and family life.
After a few pre-production rehearsals with drums, bass, and guitar, we thought we had a handle on tempos and arrangements. We went to my producer Mike’s studio, IMP Recording, and recorded the drums while playing live as a three piece. I have to be honest, we started later in the day on a Saturday, so everyone could do their family commitments in the morning, and by the time we got sounds and starting recording, I was tired. I don’t have the energy that I used to.
Drums done. Now, back to my basement where we cut bass direct, and guitars were set up in a spare bedroom that I had a second layer of sheet rock installed, and then put acoustic carpet on the ceiling and fabric-covered fiberglass panels on the walls (I know nothing about acoustical treatment—I just winged it.)
I soon found that the hardest thing about doing this project was not the money needed, nor the equipment hassles, nor getting sounds—it was about balance. Balancing all the schedules: work, coaching, family vacations, kids’ tutors.
We recorded at night after work—which means start time was usually about 7 pm. We had to keep the energy up, the volume down, and if someone upstairs flushed a toilet, it came through the mics. My wife’s heels came thru the mics. My daughter yelling that the dog just pooped on the floor came thru the mics.
I remember one particularly trying session while my wife was away and I was watching my daughter. She suddenly became ill while I had a horn section in the basement. I was running up and down the stairs (softly, so my footsteps wouldn’t bleed into the mics) to check on her, feeling guilty about my daughter on her own for minutes at a time, and also feeling bad for the guys who changed and altered their schedules. I don’t remember this level of stress when I was a 20-something rocker.
What we thought would take a month or two turned into a year. We went back to Mike’s studio to mix, and sent off the final mixes to Sterling Sound in NYC for mastering. We decided not to skimp on the mastering and what a polish it gave everything!
Now that it is finished, the final product sounds different then I had imagined—not in a bad way, just a different way. When we were young and had more time, we would spend hours going over arrangements and parts, so once we were actually recording, we knew exactly what the end results were going to sound like. This time around, we kind of invented as we went along.
Now that it is finished, what am I going to do with it?
Photo of the band Black Taxi recording at Bad Racket studios courtesy of Bad Racket Studios, Cleveland, Ohio.