Despite how things have looked, we have been EXTREMELY busy lately! Check out our new Tumblr page at http://evanidw.tumblr.com for updates and info. I decided to move over to Tumblr thanks to the cool networking and integration with Facebook and Twitter. It makes things easier for me and more people are jumping on that bandwagon anyway. So head over there, follow it, and get excited for some news soon!
at 5:04 PM
Sorry for the lack of updates. Things have been crazy lately.
So, on Friday Chris finished up his tracks. It was a long day, but he got them done. Jon came up that night and hung out for a bit while Chris tracked. Jon started on Saturday. There are two songs out of 11 that don't have vocals, so he only had nine to do. He was able to finish three songs his first day. After about 6 hours of yelling he was getting pretty tired, so we left a little early in order for him to rest up and be ready for the next day. On Sunday he tracked four more. He wasn't too familiar with three of the songs, so we kind of wrote most of the patterns and arranged the lyrics while recording. We got one of them down that night, but he took Sunday night to really arrange the other two and get a better idea for them before coming in Monday morning. We all pitched in and helped where we could. Monday we got the last two finished and began to kind of pack things up.
Mixing began Tuesday. Chris C. mixes on the console at the studio, not in Pro Tools. It sounds better because of some really expensive converters he has and he has a ton of really nice outboard gear that he just can't recreate in a computer. The only downside to this method is that once a song is mixed, it's mixed. He can't really go back and make changes to one song without having to completely remix it.
Mixing is a really cool process because the songs really take shape and become so much more than a bunch of random sounds. One of the best parts is you finally get to listen to the songs WITHOUT the click tracks! It gets really old, really fast. Anyway, mixing on Tuesday and we dropped in a little later after Chris C. started getting things the way he wanted them. From there on we gave our input and added all the flashy extras that make it that much cooler to listen to. Delays, weird effects, interesting reverbs, that sort of thing. Each day we'd come in and listen to songs over and over and critique them making tiny adjustments and bouncing the tracks in multiple versions - a vocal up mix, a vocal down mix, and an instrumental mix. If we go through and figure out find out vocals are just too quiet on a track, we can resort to the vocal up track without having to mix the song over again. The instrumental tracks are for possibilities of other things down the road. We mixed about three songs a day. It ended up going a lot faster than he expected because with our style all of the mixes are pretty consistent. In other genres you have to mix a song from the ground up each time because there are more dynamics and other things need to stick out more or less depending on the feel of the song. While that's also true for these songs, there's one pretty distinct sound we're going for so it's easy to start with the same mix each time and tweak very minor things along the way.
Today we finished mixing. It's pretty surreal right now. This huge project was not even conceived three months ago and now it's done. All the songs are mixed, all the songs have titles. I'm kind of at a loss of what to think. I'm extremely proud of it and really feel like it's my baby right now. Everyone put a lot of hard work into it and it has turned out even better than I imagined. Chris Common added some really incredible parts and effects that we wouldn't have come up with otherwise and I really feel like he made the album just that extra bit special. I couldn't have asked for a cooler dude to work with either. He's an awesome guy with some real talent. This has been quite a long two weeks and I'm actually pretty bummed it has come to an end. Only good things are in our future though. We will be back in the studio listening to the final mixes tomorrow before we pack up and leave.
at 4:58 PM
With Ryan finishing a little later than we had hoped, Brent had to smoke through his tracks...which he did, no problem. We took some time to set up the bass but Chris C. dialed in a tone really quickly that sounds just massive. Brent got to use the studio's bass cab which was an old cab for Minus The Bear and was used for the bass on Mastodon's Leviathan, one of my all-time favorite albums. He got a pretty thick and dirty tone out of Brent's gear that I'm stoked to hear live. He ran through most of his stuff really quickly. We used a bass distortion pedal on a couple of parts of a few songs where the bass is just by itself. It sounds so disgusting, I love it. Totally reminds me of the bass part on "Where Strides The Behemoth" on Mastodon's Remission (which, coincidentally Matt Bayles also produced). Anyway, Brent knocked out all 11 of his tracks in about six hours. I was looking at Thursday or Friday to start, but that quickly turned into Wednesday.
Wednesday began with us setting up the guitar sounds. We used my Peavey 6505+ and my Mesa cab along with the studio's Diezel head and Marshall cab. The Diezel is this monster of a head that runs around $4,500. The Marshall cab that we used was given to Mastodon when they were recording Blood Mountain. Apparently Marshall just shipped a bunch of cabs to them so they would use them on the album and when they were done with them, Mastodon gave one of them to The Red Room. The one they kept was the one that was used on all of the guitar tracks on that album. I'm really stoked to have some of that gear on our record too!
We got going at around 1 or so. I wanted to knock out as many as I could but we had a bit of limited time. I ended up getting seven finished in the first day. I never really got too frustrated. I want this to be as good as I can make it so I did things over and over until I was happy. Chris C. is really good with the click and timing, so he stopped me whenever he heard a bit of lag or rush with the click. It was such a long and draining day, and the next day would prove to be as well. Here's the board after day 6:
When I got there on Thursday a few minutes late, but we got right into it and I began to finish the last four songs. They were definitely the more challenging songs for me so these four took just about as much time as the other seven. There were certain small parts that I just couldn't lock down for some reason and I'd be redoing them again and again. A lot of work for just a few seconds. As soon as I was finished with the basic tracks we moved onto the lead parts. Most of the leads are really short and easy to do, so I got most of them too. Chris showed up around 6 to get started on his parts. He started tuning his guitar and something was just wrong. Chris C. decided to try to intonate it himself, but he discovered the neck on the guitar was slightly bowed, keeping it out of tune no matter what he does. If he tunes it to one spot on the neck, another part goes out of tune. After a while of trying to get it set up we just decided to use my guitar again. Chris isn't used to the thinner strings that I use, but he was just going to have to deal with it to avoid the tuning issues his guitar has. Once he got rolling with my guitar he knocked out three songs before we went home.
I'm having problems getting some video editing software installed on my computer so I apologize for the lack of promised video updates. As soon as I can get something working I will get to work on them!
at 12:52 PM
The past couple of days have been interesting. Yesterday Ryan overslept and didn't get to the studio until about a half hour late. I just hung out and talked with Chris for a bit. Once Ryan showed up we were all ready to get going on "Webster's Room." Chris opened the file up and the scratch guitars weren't showing up. He needed to pull them off of my hard drive but for some reason my hard drive wouldn't turn on. He had to take a hard drive out of its case, replace it with mine, then put everything back together. That took a good chunk of time. I don't think we got rolling until around 1. He did "Webster's Room" then went to "Big Al" and "BYF". They were giving him a bit of trouble, but nothing a few takes each couldn't fix. It was getting late and he thought he was done, but Chris asked him to try to do one more. He made a few attempts at "New Age" before giving up. He was just too tired from the day and we were changing things and hearing things we hadn't noticed that he wasn't doing before. Changing his habits was proving to be extremely difficult. We hung out for a bit while he worked on some of the sound replacement. We left around 9 since there wasn't really much else we could do for the day.
Of course, on the night before I have to go back to work, I couldn't sleep for unknown reasons. I went to bed after 1 and had to be up at 5 for work. I went to work for 4 hours before leaving and heading back to the studio by 10:30. We got to the studio and worked on more of the sound replacement for a bit before Ryan started. He worked on "New Age" and it was giving him some serious trouble. He did take after take and it took much longer than I thought it would. He pulled it all out though. While Chris was editing drums, we went over to American Music down the street to pick up a cable to finish up my new rig. When we got back we hung out a bit more and a few friends dropped in to hang out. Next was "Black Taco". I didn't think this one would give him as much trouble as it did, but this one was just as difficult as "New Age". He finally got it nailed down and the drum editing began.
I crashed on the couch. In the mixing room. While Chris was editing drums. I'm so burnt out lately. Besides Thanksgiving, I haven't had a day to do absolutely nothing since the end of October. I've been running around and getting stuff with the studio and other things set up, driving back and forth to practice every day, working, writing...non-stop. After we're done recording I'm hoping we'll take the rest of December off for a little break from the band to chill out. I need it.
We're just finishing up the last bits of drum editing on "Black Taco" and Brent will start on bass tomorrow. I'm thinking I might start Thursday or Friday. I'm ready.
at 5:47 PM
Yesterday was our first day in the studio. We're recording at The Red Room in Seattle with Chris Common. He plays drums in a band called These Arms Are Snakes and co-owns the studio with Matt Bayles. They have done work with bands like Mastodon and Minus The Bear.
We got there at 10:00am to start getting the drums set up. Ryan set up his drums in the back of the room by the kitchen. It took a few hours to get his drums tuned up and mic'd up.
There are 14 tracks total for the drums. He's using some really cool old Rode tube mics for the overheads. They're gigantic and have their own power supply and sound amazing. We actually started recording around 2 or 3. Ryan knocked out the intro, Extermination Process, and the Doom song. In between songs, Chris would edit the drums and get everything locked to the grid. This took some time, but it's better than editing all of the songs at once. It becomes a tedious process really quickly. We headed home feeling really good about the day and Ryan was off to get some rest. He had been playing all day and would be again tomorrow.
Today we got there around 10:30. We didn't think Chris was there yet so we waited outside, but it turned out he was downstairs and didn't hear us knocking. We got in and Ryan warmed up for a little bit before we got started around noon. Chris brought in his awesome beagle Cici (Cece? I don't know) and she's been keeping me company all day.
More sitting around and waiting. I brought in a little project that unfortunately didn't take more than 15 minutes. I put some velcro on the bottom of my pedals to put in my new rack/head case. Pretty exciting! Ryan's parents dropped by with their dogs and the dogs had so much fun running around and playing in the live room. Ryan finished FDA, the instrumental, and finished off with Duggada. The drum editing took a lot longer today because there's so much more to these songs than the other ones. The next five will also be pretty intense. I hope he can knock out at least four tomorrow, but we'll see how it goes. Here's the album's progress at the end of today:
Hopefully it'll only be another day and a half for drums and we can start Brent on Monday. I've been filming Ryan on each song as well as some random in-between stuff, so hopefully once he's done I'll get a studio video up covering the drums in a few days. The tracks are already sounding heavy even with just the scratch guitars, so I'm beyond stoked to get the real guitars going!
at 7:37 PM