Thursday, April 15, 2010

Studio Blog: Introduction

I've looked around for about two years for someone to work with on the new album -- recording in Pittsburgh would have meant too much travel expense, and I want to be more present during the process this time around. Last time, I wasn't there for half of the sessions, allowing the producer leeway to play through his ideas until he found something he was happy with, and it worked to my detriment.

I can't stress enough that I think "Boy Meets Girl" is a perfectly good, listenable album -- I've re-ordered, which is the goal of any independent release -- but the point of my solo career, at the end of the day, should be to be this guy with an acoustic guitar, and "Boy Meets Girl" doesn't reflect that so much as ask you to infer it. This time around, I'm putting my styling on shout, and gambling that it will work.

When I moved to New York from Pittsburgh, I had the good fortune to become re-acquainted with some of my fellow exports: Jamie Rae,
Jenna Nicholls,
Brian Halloran, and Abby Ahmad are the four that immediately spring to mind, and as best as I could, I set out to incorporate them into my showcases in Astoria.

During Abby's set at my earliest showcase, at Winegasm, she played this awesome song called "Landing Gear" that, well, picture "Time For Change" with an expanded focus, one that nailed pretty much the national post-9/11 outlook. The best part of the song for me, though, was this intense rhythm figure that ends with her fully spanking her guitar. "Wow," I thought, "That is NASTY. And AWESOME. And will never be recorded."

In the studio, things tend to change. Microphones placed to the left of the soundhole of your guitar will pick up the sound of you playing your guitar if you're a standard player, with a plectrum or a supreme grasp of the fingerpicking styles of Robert Johnson and the like. However, if you want to spank your guitar, the only sound that mic is going to pick up will sound like a mistake. I was certain that they would take out Abby's spanking noise and make it part of a percussionist's figure, or worse, turn it into a snare hit.

Then the album, "Curriculum," came out, and it was there! Not only was it there, but it was the catalyst for this awesome chain reaction of nervous tom hits. Abby's producer/boyfriend, Mark Marshall, had completely bowled me over. I have pored over this album, and I can tell you it is a piece of incredible worth, an intimate portrait of Abby's style and attitude. The end of "Lost on Me," a later track on the disc, has this crazy drum fill that feels like frustration is melting away from her every time it attacks, with a rhythmic incongruity not unlike a dresser falling headlong down a flight of stairs. Fantastic.

I had a meeting with Mark, and we talked a lot -- about "BMG," about "Curriculum," about the album I want to make and the music each of us listen to, the approaches we've taken and would like to take. It was like a choir preaching to another choir that modeled themselves on the choir that is preaching to them. Kind of amazing.

I'll keep you guys posted as more stuff happens.

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