February 21, 2018
Now that I have this nice new blog, I think it’s time to stretch my writing legs a little bit. This post is going to be about LP2, my thought process behind it, and why it’s taken so long to finish it.
Standing, Still was recorded, mixed, and mastered nearly 100% in the box – that is to say, the majority of the processing was done with my DAW/software. I won’t get too far into the weeds on that subject in this particular blog post, but it’s important to understand as a preface to what I’m about to write. When I began this project I really just wanted to release something – so I worked with what I had access to at the time. It ended up working out quite well and I’m proud of the result. If you ask most people, they probably wouldn’t think that this album was done from start to finish on a laptop in a bedroom… but it was.
So when I started writing and recording the second LP, I went back to that approach with some exceptions. I didn’t want to make the same album over again – I knew that I wanted to make something just as good, and hopefully better. Thinking that some upgrades would do the trick, I finally purchased a copy of Logic Pro – up until that point, I had been using a cracked version I torrented back in college. I upgraded my interface to a UA Apollo Twin Duo, which made a huge difference on its own. I acquired a Pod HD Pro and tried it out to see if it would be better than Amplitube in the box (it was, but maybe only because of my taste and how much tweaking I like to do – honestly, both are great at what they do). As I had hoped, things were sounding better. I kept plugging away at it. I had basically finished the album by the end of 2016 when I released the demo of “Loose Leaves”. But after sitting on it for a while, recording and releasing music with a couple bands, and going on tour twice in 2017, I was feeling more inspired – and I decided to change my approach.
At this point, I really didn’t want to make the same album over again. What I was now envisioning for this album was far beyond what I could do in the box, and on my own. I wanted to track all the instruments live, in the studio. Real drums, real amps, real everything. I wanted to introduce some additional instrumentation such as acoustic guitar and auxiliary percussion, maybe some light electronics.
It took me a while to figure this out, but 2017 really hammered it home for me – sometimes it’s just better to ask for help and save yourself the aggravation of doing things on your own. I didn’t want to feel obligated to do everything myself anymore – although I didn’t know why I was feeling that way in the first place. Not that I couldn’t or didn’t want to do it myself – I just wanted to make the best possible album that I could. The new material was so much stronger… I just wanted a recording that would do it justice. I felt compelled to collaborate with someone who would push me to make the album better or to try things I might not have considered.
While I was sitting on the album and trying to decide what to do about it, my very good friend, bandmate, and roommate Adrian had just moved into a studio space here in Chicago with some other friends of ours. I had been helping them clean it up and build it out, and moved a bunch of my gear over to be used communally. There were some minor setbacks here and there but things were moving along. The biggest project, construction of the control room, was to be completed after Adrian and I returned from our first tour with Dead Sun, in June. I decided what I wanted to do. While on tour, I approached Adrian with the idea of doing this album in his studio, with him at the helm. To my delight, he responded with the most enthusiastic yes, and we booked some recording time. So here’s what we’ve got done so far:
We scheduled a weekend at the end of June to track drums and before I knew it, there we were. We tracked with the studio’s Gretsch 22″ Catalina Birch Kick Drum, two of my Mapex Meridian Maple toms 14″ and 16″, and my Mapex Daisy Cutter Snare. I busted out all of my nice cymbals which include Zildjian K Custom 16″ Light hi-hats, and Dream Crash/Rides – 20″, 22″, and 24″.
Two weeks later, we returned to do all of the bass tracking. I haven’t upgraded my bass yet, so I used the same Squier 5-String Jazz Bass I have been using. We ran the bass through a Sovtek Mig 100B (Adrian’s) and an Emperor 2×12 1×15 (Dick from Dead Sun’s). No pedals on bass – we just pegged the amp.
A week after that, we tracked all of the rhythm guitar. These tracks were split between a Custom Model T clone running into an Emperor 4×12 Bass Cab (both Adrian’s), and my Sovtek Mig 50 running into my Emperor 4×12. Once again, we didn’t use any pedals… just pegged the amps. Progress slowed at that point, as we had to focus on booking and rehearsing our second tour of that year, which we scheduled for the first ten days of September. Once we were back home, it took us until November to get back in the studio to track the lead guitars.
For lead guitars, we again ran a dual-amp setup, this time with a First-Gen Model T (courtesy of our friend Dean Costello of Disrotted) running into my Emperor 4×12, and a Sovtek Mig 100H running into an Emperor 6×12 (both Adrian’s as well). We ran some pedals in the chain this time – an OCD on some of the main leads, and EQD Afterneath / Mr. Black Doublechorus for the more ambient layers. I think we also added a Strymon Bluesky and Boss DD-500, for the really ambient stuff.
At this point, in February 2018, all of what I would call the “main” instrumentation is done. It definitely sounds like a HARM LESS album – and better that I even could have imagined. The studio is way farther along in construction, has an additional engineer and a lot more cool gear now, and I have a lot of ideas for the additional instrumentation that I’m very excited about. I’m in the process of writing those parts now. In about two weeks we’ll be back at it, tracking all that stuff. I’ll continue to share updates about the album as I have them. I will release this album in 2018 no matter what it takes. Thanks for reading and stay tuned!