Monday, August 24, 2015

They Stole My Crayon: Recording Session II at Sound Sanctuary

I'm awake and drinking coffee. Nothing unusual for 6:50AM on a Monday, but I feel compelled on this particular morning to tell you about our second recording studio session for the debut album of my band, They Stole My Crayon. In case you haven't been following along on the saga, I'll bring you up to speed quickly: we'd (mostly) finished all of the instrumental tracks for the album, but wanted to record our vocals with higher quality than we'd be able to do with our own gear and ears. So, we booked some time with our super awesome friend Phil O'Keefe at his studio, Sound Sanctuary, located in Hesperia, CA. The first of those sessions was in July and went really well, so we were excited to move ahead on the next one, which happened this weekend (August 22/23, 2015).

Saturday August 22
I'd wanted to sleep in a little, but I think my brain knew that it wasn't a typical Saturday, and awakened me bright and early. By 10AM, Christina and I were ready to roll. After our customary stops for snacks and breakfast, we hit the road. Everything was going swimmingly until we hit one of those completely terrible traffic jams on the 15 freeway, which coincided with my having to pee really badly. Needless to say, we were very happy to arrive at Phil's... and use his bathroom.

Bunny arrived moments later, having been stuck in the same traffic as we'd endured, and we pretty much jumped right into the session. As per our usual process, all of our tracks were on a portable hard drive, and Phil loaded them into his Pro Tools system quickly. We started with "Vendetta", and right away I knew things were going to be really good. It went so smoothly that we were able to wrap up another entire song, "Picked Up Off The Floor", before we took our first break. We had to get checked into our modest but decent hotel, and get some lunch.

After that, it was straight back to work. We recorded vocals for "Blew The Dust Away" and "Favorite Things" in a whirlwind of various singers and tracks flowing by. Later in the day, Christina and I needed coffee desperately, so after a run to Starbucks, we continued our session. Dinner that night, in true studio fashion, was a pizza that was delivered ridiculously late, but still was delicious. After a couple final tracks, we called it a night and drove back up the street to our hotel where we slept soundly. At least Christina and I did; we're never sure if Bunny sleeps or not.

Sunday August 23
After the somewhat late night, we weren't in a huge hurry to get back the next morning. We leisurely got up, met Bunny, and grabbed breakfast before heading back to the studio. We'd saved the most difficult song of the session, "Longing On" for that day, and it actually went much better than I would have anticipated. It still took a good portion of the morning and early afternoon, so after that was wrapped up, we went on a food run. Once back at Phil's, it was time to record "Things Under Trees". Again, to clarify: yes, we'd recorded many of these songs already, but we re-did many of the vocal tracks, and the improvement is simply mind blowing.

We'd planned on making use of Phil beyond his already impressive engineering abilities; Phil is also an excellent musicians and singer, so we drafted him to do some extra vocals on a couple of songs. Only problem: while he sang in the tracking room, someone needed to act as the audio engineer to run the Pro Tools system. While Bunny or I could have easily done it, this was a great opportunity for Christina to gain some experience in this area. After a quick tutorial, she had no problem at all doing the job.

When Phil's stuff was wrapped up, we had a couple of final things to touch up, as well as a track of Christina playing tambourine, and that went fine too. So yes... once again, we got six songs completed. That's a total of 12 out of the 14 songs on the album. We'll likely book one final session at Phil's next month to get any remaining parts completed. It was amazingly productive, and yet we all felt relaxed and had fun, which is exactly what you hope for in a great recording session.

Like last time, Phil ended the session by dumping all of our recorded tracks back to the hard drives we'd brought for that purpose, and then at 6PM sharp, we hit the road. the drive home was very fast, and was only hampered by the act of driving due west into the sunset (which sounds poetic and all, but is much less fun when the sun is going straight into your eyeballs while you're tooling along at 80mph in traffic). Regardless, we made it back in good time, and now we're another step closer to unleashing our album on the world. Good times, I tell you. Good times.

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