Thursday, December 27, 2007

Happy Holidays! Still At It.

I hope you all had a great Christmas and have some fun NYE plans ahead of you. So far the holidays have been great for me.

Got back at it tonight in my home studio. Started laying down some keyboards on two of the last three tunes that need’em. Spent about 4 hours and ended up getting three solid tracks down. Pretty good for a post Christmas hangover evening.

Here’s the deal. The actual breakdown of what we have to complete before we are set to start mixing this album.

Tomorrow night will mark the second to last night of tracking in the “real” studio and here’s what I hope to get done:

1. Put down the vocals for one of the first tunes we started many months ago called “Gold”. I’ve been re-working the lyrics for weeks and finally got’em together earlier this evening and I’m ready to go.

2. Put some secondary rhythm gtr’s and the final gtr solo on a tune called “Heard The Shot”. The gtr stuff is always the easiest and most fun for me.

3. Re-do a harmony vocal on another tune (working title “I Don’t Know”) that was recorded a while back. The track sounds great and my vocals have been going down pretty smooth, but this one part really kinda sucks and has to be fixed.

Once all that’s tacked down and I get the last bit of keys tracked we’ll have one last night of recording ahead of us to put down the last of the percussion stuff and fix anything we see fit after a we run through the songs with a fine tooth comb.

Sorry for the LAF "to do" post, I promise some better reading next time around.

Be well, be safe and check back often!


One of the tracks i put down tonight.

Friday, December 21, 2007

12.20.07 Twenty Tracks Of Vocals

Back at it tonight. Put the vocals down on “Nice Person” this evening and when I say “vocals” I mean a shit ton of vocals. I think we topped out at around 20 tracks. That’s not to say there are 20 simultaneous tracks going at the same time, but we broke down each individual part into separate tracks to help ease the mixing process. Plenty of doubled vocals on each part and a ton of harmony deals. I laid down the foundation stuff and Jeff did some harmony stuff and I finished the whole thing off with yet more harmony stuff. The highlight was an amazing three part harmony in the chorus. One of the best on the whole album. This “Nice Person” tune is gonna end up being one of the best on the album for sure. I really can’t wait for you guys to hear this stuff.

I know when I hear about a band doing a bunch of excessive harmony vocals I usually think of a Beach Boys rip-off. Well let me tell you, I wouldn’t even consider an attempt at such vocal styling’s. Brian Wilson could burp a better vocal than I could ever imagine actually singing. I'm going for a much different deal. I’m shooting for a little better than the video below.

I'm the "dood" in the middle going for it and the other guys in the band (actually chicks in this vid, but you get the idea) are the ones that have to reign me in. This process seems to be working as of late.


12.19.07 Gtr’s, They’re Our Friends!

Yeah, you guessed it. We laid down some gtr’s tonight. Put the last bits on the tune “Nice Person” tonight. One secondary rhythm deal, a quick “blues” deal that Pete (yeah, he’s the drummer, but he did throw an acoustic gtr on and came up with a pretty sweet old school blues riff that I ended up putting down to tape and I got to say it really makes the part) and a sweet full blown, wha pedal laden solo. I must admit I’m pretty into the wha pedal when it comes to recording leads. Not the “prono” type wha stuff, but just kicking it up mid way and getting that “vocal type” tone on the gtr. Think Brian May or Deen Ween (hit the 1:32 mark and enjoy!) and you’ll get the idea. It’s just a cool way to tweek and/or bend the tone that I really dig.

Yet another strong evening in the trenches my friends.

A pic and a vid below for your enjoyment.

As always, thanks for reading!


Just imagine this "jamming" on top of one of the best tunes you've never heard. Do it, it will make the vid much better.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

the last three sessions, for me...

so the last three sessions have been great. the first did start off a little weird for me. i was having a problem hearing brians bass. i'm not sure what it was but everything sounded really loud and really muddy. thank god dave was there. we moved the mic, tweaked some knobs on the bass head and things started to clear up. dave and i have been splitting up most of the engineering, mostly by who's able to be there. some nights i'm working so daves the man in charge and some nights daves got stuff to do or is/was on the beach kite surfing. after this night me and jay stopped at the the p.o.p.e for a night cap and jay forgot to mention what happened in his post but the next day we ended up on philebrity...

im in the background laughing...

the other two nights were awesome! everything is sounding really good and we seem to be moving along rather quickly. jeff and brian have really kicked it up for these last few songs. and i feel like we are getting into a grove again. the guitar parts have been super easy to record. it's like all we have to do is turn the amp on plug any guitar into it and put a mic in front of it and it sounds good. it seems to easy i know but thats how it goes i guess...


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dat Sunburn!

The past few sessions have been very productive. I think everybody feels the end getting close and we’re kicking it into high gear on this last straightaway.

Got vocals down on “Better Bring A Bomb” & “Heard The Shot” a few nights ago. Went very smooth. A few nights later we got the final rhythm gtr’s and bass track down on a new one called “She’s More Of A Night Person”. Jeff put down the gtr’s. He had to learn the parts on the spot as I had only written the tune a few weeks prior and never even made a demo. He stepped up and nailed it in only a few takes. They sound amazing and I have to tell you that if it wasn’t for friends lending us a bunch of extra gear (Gtr’s, Amp’s etc) the album wouldn’t be sounding as good as it does. Of course it would still be good, but just having all the options is just awesome. With that said, if it wasn’t for the Metal Band that we rent a practice space too at the studio the gtr’s would have suffered big time. Any time our little arsenal of Fender amps wasn’t cutting it sound wise we could just go into their room witch resembles a mini-Guitar Center and take our pick of a ton of really cool Marshall, Orange, Laney or Sunn amps not to mention the endless supply of weird, old efx pedals. We’ve been leaning pretty heavy on this old Sunn head and cab for the last couple of tunes (Jeff used it on this last track). I think it’s solid state. Man that fucker get some sweet overdriven tones. Not really “distorted”, just good and dirty.

Brian also had to learn the tune on the spot and I have to say, he nailed one sweet ass bass track that had us all smiling in the control room as he laid it down. I guess knowing it was the last bass track one the album he decided to let it rip. Bass? DONE! It was one of those really fun nights of recording.

So I can’t believe I forgot to tell you this little studio happening. Sometime last week we were recording a bass track when in-between takes we heard somebody come in front door downstairs. I thought it was Jeff as the rest of the band was already there, but Dave heard a girls voice as they came up the stairs. Turns out it was the owner of our building Ernie along with a Asian female associate in tow. She heard the music outside an insisted on coming up and checking out what was going on. She burst through the door and with a very heavy accent asked “Are you getting high?”. We told her no, just beer and cigarette’s. This chick was shot of a cannon man. She told us that she “Sing in wedding band” and proceeded to point at all out gear and tell us what it was. “I know dat, dat Fender”, “What’s dat, dat bass?”. We were all pretty well oiled on Miller High Life at this point and we’re trying to answer her questions, but it was like she was a 5 year old that had just learned all of here favorite instruments names and was let loose in a petting zoo of musical instruments. The most classic line of her visit was when she saw the Fender Telecaster with a sunburst finish hanging on the wall and declared two times in a row in a very excited tone “I know dat, dat sunburn!”. I almost lost my shit. So good. Of course the video camera was not rolling. Fuck! A lesson learned: Always roll tape……..always!


The black Strat is my main gtr and is all over this album. The other two are on loan from Dave's brother Mike.

Jeff behind the mic.

No more bass for you.

The vocal "booth".

The mighty Mica Fuzz Wau Wau! One of the many pedals we stole from the Metal Band. This thing is insane.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Great Ghost Stories

This is the album that had "The Golden Arm" ghost story i was talking about 2 posts below!

Click here to hear it! I haven't heard this in over 26 years at least. Awesome....

Thanks A.J.!

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Visit From An Old Friend

So my old Lenola band mate and long time musician buddy Sean Byrne came by the studio tonight to hang out for the evening. I’ve spent the better part of 12 or more years making music with Sean. He’s been with me (playing drums) for all the post Turning Point music projects I’ve worked on up until Like A Fox. My man stood by me though thick and thin (mostly thin) for a long time. He’s since went on to release some amazing music with his own band “The Twin Atlas”. He’s the acceptation to the rule that a drummer shouldn’t write songs and stick to just playing the drums. I started out playing the drums and I’d still say I’m a better drummer than I am a guitar player/songwriter so I have to agree that that “rule” is bullshit. Regardless, it was a pleasure to have Sean in the studio. I knew straight off I wasn’t gonna have him in the studio to just hang out and drink with us while we went on with our business. He had to do some tracking, but I just wasn’t sure what or where to have him do his thing. One of the new tracks we just started tracking “Better Bring A Bomb” was pretty wide open, just an acoustic track with drums and bass. No vocals, no keys. Plenty of holes to fill. After I laid down a couple of electric gts to fill out the rhythm tracks and a simple “lead” gtr I handed Sean the gtr and an empty High Life bottle to lay down some slide gtr. 20 minutes later he had killed a two part slide harmony gtr deal. So good! He than went on to do some amazing percussion tracks that just took the song to the that “next level”. As I’ve said before, it’s the “headphone” tracks that make a song and Sean laid down some serious “headphone” shit tonight.

I’ve always been lucky to be involved in The Twin Atlas in one way or another. I’ve played guitar and bass with them in the live setting and have laid down a few tracks on their albums. It was nice to return the favor and have him along for the ride once again. Good times for sure!!

A sweet painting of The Twin Atlas live by Sean's pop Pete....Nice!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What’s In A Name?

So…as we get closer to finishing the album I’ve reached the point of having to name this fucker. The first LAF album was self titled. The first time I’ve ever coped out and didn’t give an album a proper title. Looking back on it, it was pretty lame as the only bands that should be allowed to “self title” an album are the big guns: Led Zeppelin, KISS, David Bowie, Cheap Trick… get the idea. In the Lenola days I would have the album title before the first note of music was ever committed to tape. I liked it that way. It felt like you were working on “something”……it had a name, an identity. But all of those album titles were either inside jokes that sounded cool or actual quotes from a drunken conversations I had that just struck me in the moment and made me think “that would make a great album title”. Well, I had one of those moments a few months back and I though I had the title for this record. I was at a BBQ at my buddy Brian’s house sitting in his backyard with a hand full of friends from my hometown, just talking about the old days, childhood shit when I remembered this old ghost story album that was passed around amongst all of us way back as youngin’s. Side two had this one ghost story about a lady that somehow ended up with an actual golden arm (a farming accident? I can’t remember), anyway the lady with the golden arm passed, but she made it clear she wanted to be buried with the golden arm before hand. The long and short of the story is that some guy dug her up and stole the golden arm and hid it under his bed. The first night he started to hear some faint moans and creepy sounds as he laid in bed until a few nights later when he was awoke to find the corpse of the golden arm lady standing at the foot of his bed screaming “where’s my golden arm, you have my golden arm!” over and over again in the most insane scary voice along with a ton of the most creepy sound effects ever. I used to play this record on my little record player night after night just to scare the shit out of myself every time listened to it. I loved that story and had totally forgotten about it until it came up over beers with my old friends and it hit me….that’s the title “The Golden Arm!”

A cool title that reminds me of old friends and good times……

Here is where this whole “Golden Arm” title gets weird.
My older brother Chris has been the artist behind all the cover art for every album, 7 inch & ep I’ve ever released dating back to the late ‘80s. With every project I start his first question is “what the title?” so he can get some grasp on the artwork. A few months ago he asked the same question and I replied “The Golden Arm” and explained the story behind it. He’s few years older and didn’t quite remember the ghost story album, but then informed me that there is and old movie starring Frank Sinatra about a jazz musician that was addicted to heroin called “The Man With The Golden Arm”. I had never heard of the movie.

Now here’s where things get a bit heavy and where I decided I can’t use the name. I’ve lost a few of my oldest/best friends to that fucking drug.

To be honest a few of the songs on this album were written around the feeling of losing some of my best friends to such a terrible drug, so the title I originally chose does have a double meaning: good memories vs. the ultimate evil.

I still like the title “The Golden Arm”, but it’s just the fact that that title would instantly conjure up the thoughts of addiction to some folks that don’t know me or the back story of the of that ghost story and the friends that I have lost.

Back to the drawing board….


Enjoy another short "lo-fi" vid of LAF in the studio.

12.5.07 (Bass is the place)

(Bri......laying it down!)

Yeah man…we’re close. Brian laid down bass on two of the last three tracks we have to complete. The last couple of tracks have been written on the fly….I think I already explained the whole “I dig writing the last songs of an album on the fly” thing a few posts ago so read below to catch up on that, but what that means for Pete’s drum parts or Brian’s bass parts is that they end up playing to really raw, basic acoustic tracks with me talking them through the part. Tonight Brian had the pleasure of playing bass on two new tracks that he really had no idea what he was gonna play. It’s a quick fix though. Just grab the acoustic gtr and run though the deal a few times with him and we’re off. The first tune we tracked is called “Heard The Shot”. A pretty simple “pop” type tune and the bass went down in a couple of takes. The second tune we tracked “You Better Bring A Bomb” was a bit more of a challenge but gave him a little room to stretch out on the bass and that turned out to be a good thing. He nailed a solid bass track and added a sweet counter melody bass line for the “middle eight” of the tune that changed my whole idea of what that part was gonna be……Very nice!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Well on our way….to the last weeks of recording!

Hit the studio at 7:00 this evening. Started with some drum tracks. Some of the last drums we need to record. It’s always a good sign of being close to the end when the last drums are put to tape…well “digital tape” anyway.

Pete put down a cool loop type beat in the verse parts of a tune called “I Don’t Know”.

And, yes that is a working title, it is a lyric in the song, but a very bad song name. “What song do you want to work on? “I don’t know”. Have a smoke, think about it. “I don’t know! Man”. It can be like the “Who’s on first” bit. Well, not really. I’m just realizing that I’m horrible at giving my songs an actual decent name. As we track each song in the studio I have to come up with a “song title” on the spot so we know what we’re working on and know how to find it on the computer tomorrow. I usually pick the first lyric of the tune…..not always bad, not always good. What I’m getting at is that a song now referred to as “I Don’t Know” is a pretty sweet tune and will end up with a much better/representative title like “Diamond Laced Fingers Stealing The Golden Horn Of The Ultimate Awesome Unicorn!” Ummmm, no. Gotta find something in between the two I guess. Most of the working titles of the tunes kinda suck, bit that’s an easy fix.

The second part of the night was spent putting some less conventional drum tracks one of the latest and final tunes we started tracking last week. This one is gonna be one of the only truly acoustic based “mellow” tunes that will appear on the album. Set up a floor tom for Pete to play and a rack tom that I played at the same time. I was looking for a “marching band” type effect. It worked. Then we laid down some stereo tracks of a snare and a crash cymbal to complete the effect. All this took up a good bit of the night and even though they are intended to basically be “headphone” tracks that most people will not really notice in the final product we still gave it our all and drank a few Miller’s in the process.

I’m now at the point that I need to come up with an album title too. I had one that I really thought was pretty great and was committed too, but I feel like a have to change now. I didn’t know the title I chose had a “double” meaning until a couple months ago. I’ll write about it tomorrow.

As always thanks for reading!