Monday, July 11, 2011

SFTD Recording Journal (Part 2)

On Sunday July 10, 2011 (Debby Harry's birthday), Brian pulled into my driveway at 9:00.  As I was bringing my guitar out to the car, I saw him get out and raise the hood.  "The check engine light just came on" he said as I walked over to the car, where we saw smoke coming off of the engine.

Since we are both pretty clueless in the ways of cars, we decided it'd probably be best if we didn't take the smoking car up into the nowheres of New Hampshire for the day's recording session.

Lesa was kind enough to lend us her car and we got on the road later than planned but with the knowledge that Tony would arrive before us, and since the day was about recording his guitar parts, things could begin anyway.

The ride was pleasant on a beautiful summer Sunday morning and we listened to Brian's first podcast ever.  I learned a bit about Ringo Starr, it was a birthday tribute to him.  I recommend a listen.

When we got to Brown Bag Studios (we drove right past it again and had to bang a louie to get back) we stepped out into the silent New Hampshire forest and heard a faint echoing of music.  As we approached the building, it was clearly Tony playing guitar.  But what song was it?  We couldn't figure it out at first.  It sounded really cool though, whatever he was playing.

We stood outside the door waiting for a break in sound so we didn't interrupt a good take and after a bit determined it was "Saving Your Life Is Going To Be Real Interesting".

Inside, we found Frank and Tony and the dog and the cat all sitting in the comfortable studio with swirling guitar sounds streaming from the speakers.

Tony was playing a beautiful green Fender something-or-other.  Brian and I slumped down on the sofa and watched as Tony and Frank went through song after song.  Effects pedals were switched in and out, amp settings were changed, microphones were moved, and through it all Frank and Tony sat stoically, intensely focused on their work.

Brian and I would pipe in with suggestions here and there.  Tony played an interesting and hooky finger-picked part for "Saving Your Life" and then moved on to the goofy "Turn It Down" where he had us all laughing during the most absurd guitar solo during the ending.  I love when a bit of music can make me laugh.  His solo was perfectly bad.

Next up was "I Don't Know About Anyone Else But" where a bit of tremolo was added and I again, had the privilege of hearing clearly the parts that Tony had been playing live.  For a few minutes, Tony took a break while I added my part to that song.  He was allowed a glass of water but then he went right back into recording.

We dove into "Jake and Kim Broke Up (Leave Me Out Of It)" and Tony got to pull out some of his surf guitar chops.  I can't tell you how nice it is to hear these songs coming to life.

"Somebody Else's Problem" was next.  It's the green fender on the hooks and the wood G&L on the verses.  The Mary-Tyler-Moore solo, gets doubled an octave lower by tuning some strings way down.  Frank's got some great ideas, yo.

While Tony has the guitar tuned down, he jumps into his droning open-tuned part for "I Wasn't Looking For This."  It was a completely unexpected part, but it grew on me in about half a second.

And that was that.  The day's work was done.  The songs were coming alive.  It was really nice to hear them.  We hadn't heard anything since we did the drums and bass.  Everything sounded great.  They had the right amount of energy.  They had the right sound.

As Brian and I drove home, we spoke about how focused Tony was.  He never got flustered or distracted.  he just patiently moved from one song to the next.  His wonderful parts were so different than what I would have added and therefore perfect.  Frank was just as tuned-in as Tony, with his intense listening sometimes yielding musical suggestions or ideas for changing things sonically.  He's got a great ear for tempo and tuning but he's also always listening for the right musical intensity as well

It's a great feeling to be working on my songs with people who I trust entirely.

Here's Tony playing solo #1 on "Jake and Kim Broke Up (Leave Me Out Of It)"


Joe Lindsey said...

Where is Brown Bag Studios located? I live just outside of Manchester and may be looking for a local studio soon.

Henning said...

Joe, send me an email, so I can respond there and I can tell you the contact info.