Monday, April 13, 2015

More Crayonisms

One thing that any creative person will probably tell you: while you're on a roll, stay on that roll. I was still feeling the high of the previous weekend's explosion of musical output that I wanted to carry it over and keep the creative juices flowing. So that's what I did, along with the encouragement and participation of my bandmates in They Stole My Crayon, Bunny and Christina. As soon as I wrapped up work on Friday, I launched into the creation of yet another new song, "Bag Of Nothing". On Saturday, I did the same thing with our song "Disarmed". All three of us emphatically agree that this recent slew of music is among our very best stuff. We couldn't be happier.

April 10: "Bag Of Nothing"
I actually had started working on this over the previous weekend, and gave up. Why? Well, heh heh... when I did the original demo on acoustic guitar, I was all over the map in time signatures. Not accidentally; I like creating songs that don't do what people expect. But when it came time to put the song down with multiple instruments and so on, it turned out to be an unexpected challenge. The time signatures do not repeat other than in small sections. What may have been a 2-count in the first verse is a 3-count in the second. What was a 4/4 measure in the second verse is a 5/4 measure in the third. None of this stuff is rocket science, but it's also not simple and intuitive. I could have taken the easy way out and just changed the song to be consistent across its length, but where's the fun in that? We are an alternative music band, and we should try and push some boundaries and expectations. I have to say, "Bag Of Nothing" came out great after I delivered the tracks to Bunny and he added his lead vocals. Like the rest of our songs, this is still in progress, but it's off to a great start.

Like pretty much everything else in your life these days, recording is done by most people using a computer, with various applications called DAWs... Digital Audio Workstations. The main reason why The Crayon uses this type of recording tool is that it's very easy for us to send tracks back and forth to each other so we can collaborate from a distance without it being a big pain in the ass. We also use them because recording and mixing music via a computer is a lot less expensive and a lot more convenient than doing it in a studio on analog tape, despite the fact that we'd all prefer the old-school way if that was a real option. Here's a shot while working on our song "Disarmed" which, like most Crayon songs, contains a combination of live audio recordings and virtual instruments.

April 11: "Disarmed"
Here's a case where the song did change significantly between the early demo and the recording, but wow, what a change it is. Like many tunes, I'd done the initial version on acoustic guitar, just putting down the initial chord progression and giving Bunny something to write lyrics and sing over. When it came time to record, however, I stumbled into a groove that was undeniably fun, and I decided to roll with it. I'm never certain that Christina or Bunny will like it when I pull a song in an unexpected direction, but most of the time they are onboard with my thought process, and this was certainly true here. Unlike "Bag Of Nothing", where I left all the quirkiness of timing in the recorded version, I did tweak "Disarmed" to make it a little more dance-friendly with that great groove we'd found, and I'm happy I did. The music itself has enough oddness in it to withstand the simplicity of a straight-up 4/4 beat. Anyway, like our other recent stuff, we shipped off the tracks to Bunny who recorded his lead vocals, and then Christina and I spent our Sunday afternoon/evening adding our own backing vocals. A quick temporary mix later, and I was dancing around my studio to this song that really didn't exist about 24 hours earlier.

The Crayon has a lot to do. There's much more to making an album than most people realize, some of it directly having to do with the music, and some of it having to do with how people will end up being able to hear the music. We're still a pretty long way off from being done with this album, putting it out, and moving on to the next one. I can pretty confidently say that I think before the end of 2015, a Crayon album will be available for the world to check out and hopefully like. My goal is really simple: if we can make a serious connection with even just one person who really loves what we're doing musically, the whole process will have been more than worthwhile.

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