Super pumped, and ready, despite being before midday, I laid down the vocal and guitar guide tracks for the last 2 of 12 tracks. I was hoping to play “The Finish Line” on my Gold Tone Resonator for its particular sound, but it hasn’t appeared to have survived the trip from Melbourne, and seems to have an overwhelming buzz in it. So I used my other SX resonator for the guide… which has a completely different sound. I’m hoping to get the Gold Tone repaired ready for laying down the real guitar part. What a bummer. But we’ll make do ‘ey.
Grungy Gretsch: “Sweet Tooth” is going to be an epic track. My goodness. I wasn’t planning on doing this tune, but decided to scrap my only sweet “piano pop” song to give this dirty blues track a whirl, and was delighted Sean was all for it. He whipped out the Gretsch for me to play this track on. My goodness. That guitar is WICKED. It has balls. It’s dirty and edging. There isn’t a more perfectly imperfect sounding guitar for this track. I am in love…
Letting Go: It’s every songwriter’s worst nightmare; when someone comes along and pulls your song to pieces. But I’ve gone into this album with a different attitude; giving over my songs to the master. I am somewhat familiar with Sean’s work and have the upmost respect for him. I trust him with my songs. And there comes a time when you just have to give the song over to another creative soul, and trust them with it, see where they take it (and also trust yourself to stand up when you know it’s not going in the right direction). I had a feeling both Sweet Tooth and The Finish Line were far too long, and I gave Sean permission to chop bits out. I had to let go of whole versus and choruses, guitar parts, and fills. We took a whole minute and a half off The Finish Line. There were parts in that song, where I just kept trying to take the listener into a different zone, a new journey, here, there, and everywhere, and ultimately it’s confusing for the. Sometimes times LESS is more. I already have songs on the album that just allow for time and space to take the listener away for a little while. But that’s not right for these two songs. Sometimes you’ve just gotta let go. When you do, it’s quite a good feeling. I’m stoked with the way the songs are heading.
To Be or Not to Be: It’s interesting which guitar parts of mine Sean embraces and which others he wants to tone down. On the one hand we want to make sure this album represents ME and what I do, and on the other hand, we are trying to bring the songs to their entirety, with the tasty flavours of other instruments. In order to give a song more omf and groove, drums must be added. In order to give it more depth, bass must be added. In order to give it more melodic interest and texture, other instruments must be added. And… to add these things ultimately conflicts with my busy guitar foundations that have always aimed to do all those parts at once and stand on its own. For songs like Chasing Stars, I had to learn to play the guitar part completely different, so that it flows better and leaves room for the drums to provide the groove, and for other instruments to fill the spaces. But for Sweet Tooth and Pockets, Sean wants these guitar riffs to stand out.
Drums: We got into the drums today, straight away, well ahead of schedule. The idea is that drums need to be laid down very early, as they are the real foundationds of any song. I will come back and play/sing to the drum tracks.
The drums took at least 2 hours to set up – get in position, get mic-ed up, tuned up, tested with levels, altered, then tested again, and into it. Sean called in Michael Quigley, a brilliant session drummer, to drum on all 12 tracks. We got through 4 songs today. Tomorrow we will do the other 8.
Sean and I sat in the studio watching Quigley through the glass, like we were observing a fascinating animal in a zoo, as it performed it’s most intriguing, yet most natural, of rituals.
I didn’t hear Quigley miss a single beat. He’s like a machine. Yet he’s so sensitive. He could thrash out a mean grunge beat, or he could delicately dance around an atmospheric track. It’s one thing to be in time, but it’s another thing to play to the dynamics of a song, and it’s another thing again to play with soul….
I dunno how he does it. Quigs came in without hearing the songs, sat down for a listen or two, wrote some notes, then he just nailed it in the studio. He doesn’t miss a beat. He closes his eyes, and just gets in this zone. And Sean and I sit there watching in awe. How he remembered the half bars, and the fills, I don’t know… How he gets into the zone, every time…. I don’t know.
I’m stoked with how the tracks are coming along. They just sound massive with the help of drums. What a difference it makes. I’m sooooo excited, and I just can’t hide it……