Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Album Update: Where We At?

I'm like a cloud

If I really felt like it, I'm pretty sure I could write a book on making an album. I don't know that it'd be a very interesting book, and it might only have my own perspective on the matter, but I could fill page after page on the triumphs, trials, and tribulations of the process of recording a bunch of songs.

Since I have neither the time nor energy to write that book (I'd rather spend it on making another album), I guess a blog post will do just fine. Here's where things stand on the creation of my album as of today. Let's start at the beginning, though, okay?

June 1969: I am born. This may be when the universe began, for all I know.

Sometime in early 1973: For some weird reason, my parents place me in piano lessons before my fourth birthday. I'm sure I was precocious and all that, but it seems pretty young to me. I continue playing piano on and off for the rest of my life. Mostly off.

June 1977: I get a guitar for my birthday. Ah, that's more like it. I can carry it around (try that with a piano), and girls look at me in a different way when I play it. This must be something good.

December 1980: I play (and sing) in my first big show in front of people, at a recital put on by my guitar teacher. Completely coincidentally (I hope), John Lennon is killed in New York at the very moment I take the stage for the first time in LA. Spooky, huh?

Fall 1982: I start high school, and get some of my friends into being in a band with me. Thus starts a lifetime of trying to play music with other people, with varying results. One result is that for the first time, I'm starting to write my own songs. They are uniformly crap.

Sometime in 1984: I meet a high school buddy who is also into songwriting, and we spend every spare moment writing and recording songs (when we're not out being little criminals, which was unfortunately far too often). Mike and I write and record dozens upon dozens of songs. Nearly every one of them are utter crap, until we get a little older and start listening more (rather than just spewing sounds and words onto tape). After about 5-6 years of this, we start writing some pretty decent stuff. I also end up going to several music schools in this time frame, learning a lot about composition.

1992-2002: The Dark Ages, musically speaking. I am busy trying to build a career and a family. I do record occasionally and jam with friends from time to time, but it's almost always on other people's songs. Creatively, I am funneling my efforts to things other than music. It's a shame, since I probably could have done some interesting stuff in that decade. Every so often, I pick up a guitar and strum a bit, and some of the themes I noodle with at this point do make a difference down the road (ooh, foreshadowing moment).

2000: While being a marketing weasel for a pro audio company, I become acquainted with one of our outside product beta testers, some guy with a studio in Riverside named Phil O'Keefe.

2001: Having been into Internet-type stuff for awhile already, I become a member on the MusicPlayer forums (the people who make magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, EQ and so on). I meet several people with like-minded musical outlooks, including Bunny Knutson and Ken Lee. Phil O'Keefe is also a member there.

2002-2006: On the insistence of an old friend, I join a local band that's playing the covers circuit. While it doesn't do much for my creative output, it gets me back into playing on a regular basis so my skills are honed again.

October 2006: My ladyfriend and I discover Second Life, which is cool because at the time, she's living in Seattle and I'm here in LA, and it allows us to feel like we're hanging out. One of the things we do is go check out some live music. "I can do that," I say to her.

February 2007: I finally sit down and start writing some songs. After doing a few silly tunes to get back into it, I do my first couple of serious songs in many years: "This Afternoon" and then "Falling Down". The latter tune was one I'd been fiddling with for years and finally finished.

April 2007: Armed with a new acoustic guitar and a set of harmonicas, I start playing shows in Second Life. My early shows are 90% covers, but I throw in my own stuff as well. In addition to the first two original tunes, I pretty quickly add another new one, called "Always Tomorrow".

October 2007: I bust out a new song that I was calling "For This Moment" at the time. That song gets refined and expanded and ends up as "Waiting for This". Later that same month, another new one pops out. I call it "Nothing Stays the Same", and eventually the chorus gets retooled and it becomes "Lines On Your Eyes".

February 2008: Another blast of creativity hits me, resulting in "Thanks Anyway". That month, I start talking to Phil O'Keefe and Bunny Knutson about getting together to start recording some of my songs. They seem into the idea.

March 2008: We go into Phil's studio, Sound Sanctuary, and record the first two tracks ("Falling Down" And "This Afternoon") in one day.

May 2008: On a cloudless spring day, I write "You're Like a Cloud". Phil delivers the first two rough mixes for the album. I am happy.

June 2008: Another recording session with Phil and Bunny, this time for "You're Like a Cloud" and "Thanks Anyway".

October 2008: I write "The Sands of Redondo" while sitting in my apartment, wishing I was on the beach instead.

November 2008: Our third recording session. This time, we're joined by Ken Lee, as well as my darling Kat. We record "The Sands of Redondo" as well as "Always Tomorrow". Also, Phil sends a rough mix of "You're Like a Cloud". I am happy.

December 2008: Never having been very happy with an earlier rendition of the song, I revise it and end up with the final version of "Lines On Your Eyes".

January 2009: Phil sends a rough mix of "The Sands of Redondo". I am happy.

March 2009: The muse brings her sledgehammer; I write another three new songs in a couple of weeks. One, "Come Around", is just what I need to kick up the rock quotient on the album. The second, which I don't realize yet, is going to stay an instrumental, and I call it "Waxing Gibbous". The third new one, "Time Never Waits for You", is good, yet I decide to not record it for this album, perhaps to save for the next one. Later that month, we go back for our fourth recording session, and record "Waxing Gibbous", "Come Around", and "Lines on Your Eyes".

April 2009: I pull out another new tune, and a month later do lyrics for it. It's called "Fade Away", and it's the most recent new song I'd write that would be recorded on this album.

May 2009: Phil delivers mixes for "Waxing Gibbous" and "Come Around". I am happy.

July 2009: Our fifth session at Sound Sanctuary has us recording "Fade Away" and "Waiting for This". Phil sends over the rough mix for "Lines On Your Eyes". I am happy.

August 2009: We go in for our sixth and final recording session, doing vocals and guitar overdubs for "Fade Away" and "Waiting for This".

September 2009: Phil sends over the rough mix for "Fade Away". I am happy. Phil sets to work on the three remaining mixes ("Thanks Anyway", "Always Tomorrow", and "Waiting for This").

And that, my friends, brings us up to today. In just a few weeks, we'll be headed back to the studio once again, to do a final listen on all of the mixes and let Phil work his last bit of magic before shipping the mixes off for mastering, then replication for CDs and uploads for online music stores. And now, you know. Whew.

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