Look at my Navel with Me

 

I haven’t had much to say lately, but that’s because we’re letting the press do our talking, even here on this blog spot (Adam, you absolutely ROCK if you didn’t already know it many times over).  The new tracks sound killer, and I’m very pleased with our tenacity and follow through in the face of what turned into a big slog, as we learned first-hand that too many cooks spoil the broth.  Well, we didn’t spoil the broth, but we began to see the limitations of a democratic system in action.  A monarch can make quicker decisions, simple as that.  To use another metaphor, it felt like we were laying tracks the way Deep Blue plays chess: scan every possible move out to the power of ten thousand, then actually make a choice.  The trouble with that approach is, humans don’t move through all the options nearly as fast as a computer can, and so we got bogged down a few times.  Plus, we added Adam to the mix, and as it was his first time in a serious recording situation, I think everyone had their eyes on him a bit (on top of the fact that just by being there he added 25% more time to the tracking than when we were a three piece.  Or would it be 33%?  I can never keep that shit straight).  Of course, his learning curve is basically a vertical line, so he’s now operating at professional capacity with everyone’s complete trust.

 

Then there was our idea of having everyone in the room for everyone’s tracking sessions (except Matt, who flies solo when he cuts his parts).  That seemed to work ok for the last record, but again, we were only three, and perhaps more prepared for the studio besides.  This time I felt a little buffeted about between everyone’s idea of how to sing it this way or that, and I won’t lie, I got close to telling everyone to get the hell out and let me do this the way I know more than once.  But I didn’t say it, and my vocal tracks are the better for having held my tongue.  Not to mention that they’re still uniquely mine.

 

And so, finally, we are done mixing and are moving on to mastering (a much less involved process, and one that we will send Jesse and his hypersensitive ears in to handle by himself).  I finally got to sit back and listen to this stuff as music, instead of as a bunch of tracks and plug-ins.  And what do you know?  I honestly think that, as with our last effort, it’s the new high water mark for us.  We will drop it on you all shortly (June 27 at Church in Boston!), and we’ll see if you agree.

 

Moving forward, I think we’re going to be looking to streamline a bit in order to maintain flow and fun.  To get back to the governance metaphor, it’s going to look a lot more like a republic, where you elect someone to represent you, than it is a true democracy, where things can degenerate fairly quickly into bureaucracy if care is not taken to stave it off.  Especially in a band where everyone is so chock full of ideas.  So next time, Matt will continue to cut bass by himself, and Jesse gets to be the assistant producer, making sure things are in key, on tempo, etc.  I don’t think we’ll be doing the everyone in the room thing again though.  Unlike Deep Blue, we’re going back to moving forward by intuitive leap, and trusting in each other’s talents enough to say “even if I don’t quite understand right now what you’re up to, you’re in this band because you’re good.  Do your thing.  If I still really hate it after a good long audition, we’ll talk then”.  And above all to remember a breakthrough insight I’ve finally had, and written in Sharpie and tape on the top edge of my guitar to always remember:  it doesn’t fucking matter, so you might as well have a good time.

Words to live by, kids.

 

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