The Second Album, Part 4: Completion
The day had come to record our drum tracks, the final touch to our album. Some producers might consider that backwards, but up until then, we had been doing all of our recording for instruments and vocals in our small apartment studio — and generally speaking, neighbors just don't like it when you play drums next door. So we had put off recording the drums until very last, searching for an ideal location and time to get the tracks done in.
Just a note here for those not familiar with the recording environment: we were using something called "overdubbing", where we recorded the bass to a basic click track (to keep us in rhythm), then went back and recorded the guitar over that, then the vocals, then the strings, then the leads, etc. Since we were doing all our own recording, engineering and production for most of our songs, we couldn't all play at the same time, in unison, like we do live. So we overdubbed tracks after the fact.
One other notable delay involved here, was that until then — the same day that we were scheduled to record drums — the drum pickups hadn't been delivered. We had decided a few weeks back that we wanted to look at doing our recording with Pick Up the World© polymer film pickups instead of the standard drum microphone setup, because they were much lighter, more versatile, more transportable, and just plain cool. We'd seen other drummers using them, and just had to give them a try.
So they had just arrived at around 2:00 p.m. that afternoon, and we decided that our grandparents' empty house in Henderson (a town just northeast of Nashville) would be an ideal location to record in privacy without disturbing the neighbors, so we packed up and headed up there to get to work.
Something we hadn't planned for was the fact that, due to the new technology we were using to capture the sound, it took a lot of tinkering and placement trial and error to get everything worked out where we could successfully sit down and record takes for each of our songs. It actually ended up taking all afternoon, evening, and part of the night to get the drums set up and ready to record, so that seriously delayed our project. Micah and I crashed at around 11:00 p.m., but Gabe stayed up till around 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. getting the tracks set up and testing the drum sounds before he finally went to bed.
The next day, Gabe got up late and got to work again, and we went through and recorded a minimum of 2 takes for each of the songs. It might have taken a long time, but by the time we finished, we were heading back to the house with a full album's worth of quality drum recordings ready to mix in with the rest of the tracks.
The final steps toward completing our album were editing, mixing, and mastering. So Gabe began the process of going through each track of each song, choosing which take we liked best, and chopping it to where it needed to be, etc. We got through 10 of our 12 songs and realized we had forgotten something: The vocals for Anger were nowhere to be found.
At the last minute, we had to organize an emergency recording session, set up mics, clear the floor, and one by one we came in and recorded lead vocals, tenor, and alto, respectively. Luckily, we finished with no significant delays, so we closed out the session and edited the new vocal tracks down to size, and dubbed them into the song.
Mixing consisted of setting automation for the faders, adding small amounts of reverb to the vocals, adjusting EQ, etc. As our resident audiophile, this was Gabe's favorite part of the whole process. This was also the slowest, longest part of the whole process, and between planning for our big concert at the Charleston Civic Center, playing live shows in Nashville, and holding down day-to-day responsibilities, it took us nearly 3 weeks just to complete the mixing. But in the end we were happy with how it turned out.
Based on the overwhelming response from our readers last month, we asked Bug Lilly, a local Charleston folk singer/songwriter, to open our show for us on March 9th, and he agreed. He also performed live at our concert at Teays Valley Cinemas last February, and everyone really seemed to enjoy his music. For all of our loyal Voiceboxx readers, if you plan to attend the concert, use the special discount code "throwingstones" when purchasing tickets to get an exclusive $5 Voiceboxx-reader discount! See you next month!
You can find out more about the Redding Brothers, sign up for their mailing list, and purchase tickets for the March 9th Civic Center concert online at their highly interactive website, ReddingBrothers.com. While you're there, subscribe to the band's "Making of an American Rock Band" Podcast, which is a companion to this column. You can also purchase tickets by calling toll-free 1-888-88-REDDING.