Studio Update #4

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.


Studio Update #3

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!