Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Appendix M Screenshot

The yard of Appendix a has been mowed. All that's left is the edging. I'm waiting on the licensing for a couple of songs (Sun on the Moon, by James Taylor and The Color Green by Rich Mullins), and if/when I get the legal stuff straightened out the record will be off to the printer. I think we'll start pre-orders at the end of this week.

Here's a sneak peek at the welcome screen of the enhanced content:

As for the album, tomorrow's the big day. I feel nothing but excitement. The songs are ready to go, the details are lined up for tracking, and all that's left is a prayer meeting tonight with Ben and breakfast in the morning.

When we were making Love and Thunder with Steve Hindalong and Derri Daugherty we met at a place called Five and Diner in Brentwood for breakfast most mornings of the tracking process. Steve said he liked to get everybody together hanging out for a little while before they headed into the cave and set to work, that it helped with camaraderie and focus. Also, omelettes are nice.

So tomorrow morning I'm meeting Ben at the ol' Cracker Barrel for some fattening scrumptiousness before we press the record button.

In answer to eiszoe's question about tracking, the answer is a scratch track. You find the tempo for the song and usually you play into a mic while the bass player and drummer are recording. You're recording your scratch vocal/guitar at the same time, and hopefully by the third take or so you've performed it well enough for them to follow you and you can come back to the control room to listen to their additional takes.

It always feels weird hearing an acoustic song with drums for the first time. This is when you hash out the particular pattern for the drummer, because as you know there are about 50 ways to play each song, rhythm-wise. I have to place a lot of trust in both the producer and the drummer at this point because they're hearing the big picture in ways that I sometimes can't. I remember with Pillar of Fire I was worried about what Ken Lewis was playing on the kit because it didn't groove the way I wanted it to. He kept telling me to wait for the percussion. When he finally got around to perc he filled in holes he had been leaving open with the kit and voilá, there was the groove. Lesson: always trust Ken Lewis.

Most times my gut reaction is that the songs feel all wrong with the drums, like they feel too fast or too funky or something, but the next day they sound just fine. Tempo has also been an issue for me. Ben and I have sworn to speed up each song by about two clicks from where we think it should be. Several songs on the last few records have felt a teeny bit too slow, and I think the reason is because I had a hard time singing them faster. I like to enunciate my words and make sure the lyric is discernible, and when the tempo is too fast it bugs. But some songs felt way too fast when we recorded them and once the record was finished they felt too slow. So two clicks faster this time. At least.

So John, you have to get used to playing your song with a click, then record a scratch vocal and guitar to it, if possible while the drums and bass are recording. It feels more natural that way.

It's also a good idea to make the scratch as good a performance as possible, even though you won't be keeping it; all the other musicians will be playing to it until you get your final vocal/guitar done, and if it's bad you end up feeling lousy and apologizing over and over. If it's good, they can focus on the song and maybe even get excited about it.

That's all for now.



eiszoe said...

Very helpful. Thanks! Enjoy the omelets.

rednk-n-eurp said...

omelets are nice. so are swedish pancakes.

Elliot said...

Great comments about the process - especially the danger of making a "sloppy" scratch track that you apologize later for (been there, done that).

lyndsayslaten said...

omelete is a really, really weirdly spelled word.

i'm loving these updates!!

Tk log said...

I am excited for the end of this week :)

Shannon in TN said...

Um, you might want to rephrase the wording of this sentence:

"When we were making Love and Thunder with Steve Hindalong and Derri Daugherty we met at a place called Five and Diner in Brentwood for breakfast most mornings of the tracking process."

I was reading it outloud to John as he sat across the room...and you can kind of figure out what he started to think about. (do I have to spell it out to you?)


Andrew Peterson said...

Ha! Ewww. Correction:

"When we were making THE RECORD Love and Thunder..."

Brody Harper said...

Good call on "The Color Green".... best Rich Mullins song ever....

Steph VG said...

Just have to say, thanks for making your lyrics discernible.

And now I'm hungry for eggs.