The Second Album, Part 1: The Studio
There was a disagreement in the air as we sat in the plush production room at MTSU’s Studio B – one of the largest and most expensive recording studios in middle Tennessee – that by some act of fate we had obtained the use of free of charge. It was 11:00 p.m. on Friday, September 15th, and we had been focused and working hard for the past 7 hours on some of our newest tracks for the upcoming album release in
Spring 2007. Gabe was already exhibiting the beginning signs of silliness-due-to-sleep-deprivation, and Micah was becoming increasingly more unreasonable. Luckily I was around to bring some sanity to the discussion.
“The tempo is already at 160, and I think if we increase it any more, we risk making the vocals muddy and the lyrics slurred,” Stephen, our engineer stated.
Gabe disagreed. “I think it sounds good now, but we would definitely play it faster that that live, and I think it might sound a little better that way.”
Micah, reclining in his armchair with an obvious “smarter-than-thou” smirk smeared across his face, responded, “Well, why don’t we do this: let’s skip recording for one take, and just go plug in and play a couple bars of the song at the tempo we would naturally perform it at, and you and John can decide what you think
John Sherrod, our Producer for the evening, agreed, “I think it sounds great how it is, and it’s hard for me to believe there would be a better sound by speeding it up, but we can definitely try it.”
The three of us headed back into the isolation rooms to strap back in and do the take. A few minutes later we re-emerged.
“It was almost immediate when we heard that take that we knew we liked the first one better,” said John. “It was just too hard to distinguish the lyrics, and it didn’t flow quite as well either, I don’t think.”
“I’m always after you guys to play slower on-stage anyway,” I chimed in with a laugh. “But I would never say ‘I told you so’.”
Micah decided he was good with it. Tonight’s projects were “Folsom Prison Blues” (not appearing on the album, but being recorded for fun) and our own song “Fine”, planned for release early next year. We had laid down the acoustic guitar, bass, drum, and lead vocal tracks, mainly aiming to get the rhythm parts on record. The acoustic guitar and vocal parts were recorded by Micah at the same time, just to
keep us all in sync, but we knew we would have to record those over individually at separate times.
Gabe and I each had our own isolation room for the takes, and Micah played and sung in the main room between ours. John, Stephen, and the rest of the studio staff stayed behind the glass in the production room monitoring us and catching it all on the ProTools HD recording system (which, by the way, was pretty sweet.) After each take, we headed back to the production room and listen to what we had just recorded to decide if we wanted to keep it.
We started out with an 8-hour time block, and considering that it took us 2 and a half hours to set up (thanks in part to a lot of technical difficulties), by the end of the night, we had a very good product for the amount of time we actually put into it. Both Stephen and John said they were impressed with how good it sounded “raw”
without any mixing or effects, and that kind of made us feel good.
Over the next few months we’ll be spending a lot of time in the studio working on the forthcoming album. We’ll be heading back into the studio this next weekend to record vocals and harmony for “Fine” and “Folsom”, and to begin work on two more tracks for the album. We’ll let you know how the next session goes in Part Two.