Producing 101 (Part 2)
June 14, 2005
So that first week in January we spent cutting most of the drum tracks, which was basically me playing ‘scratch guitar’ (a guitar played as a guide only, which gets erased later on and replaced by a better sounding one) and Mini Bar drummer, Malcolm Cross, on drums. Rusty played drums on two songs and believe it or not he layed the drums down on one of the songs drums first without the help of a guitar or anything. That was cool. By week’s end, we had 12 songs with drums completely done. The drums were recorded to a 24-track , 2″ tape by Venice Studio whiz, Steve Refling and them dumped to Pro Tools. By that Friday, David Nolte and myself were laying the bass down to the songs. He did 5 songs and I did 7. The single, “Real Life”, is Nolte’s work and a damn fine job if I say so. By that weekend we had drums and bass done. 12 songs. And it sounded fat. No, it sounded PHAT.
The next week we went into the Wondermints’ studio with (Brian Wilson guitarist) Nick Walusko behind the board and proceeded to cut about 98% of the guitars and guitar solos in the next 10 days. Although we had a bunch of amps and a massive amount of pedals at our desposal, at the end of the day all we used was Rusty’s RED SNAPPER distortion pedal and Nick’s VOX wah-wah pedal. We ran this stuff through our friend, Paul Flynn’s custom “Divided-by-13” amp, which was a cross between a Matchless amp and a Marshall amp. At first the signal was fuck-all noisy but Rusty turned the volume down and cranked the microphone up. This gave us a very smooth sound yet it still retained the ‘rock.’ Nick had to split with Brian Wilson to do some shows in Japan so we had a week or so off while he did that. They’d played Australia and had some time off so some of the band members took holidays. Some went to New Zealand, some went to Thailand and other exotic places. Unfortunately, Brian’s celloist, a Swede named Marcus, perished in the tsunami that hit one of those south sea resorts, so Nick was certainly upset about that while we were working on the record and I remember him feeling very sad about going out again without Marcus (who’s body was only found just last week), which we totally understood.
So the record company guy, who was a real funny and knowledgeable guy, flew out to LA and we had some meetings/dinners/lunch and stuff with him. He then intimated that he wanted to record 3 more songs! One of them was a demo called IN MY MOVIE. I thought the demo was weak and the song, kinda good but cheesy. Me and Rusty went to work on it, changed some stuff and then I got Nolte to work on a bass line to give it some steam. We got some studio time at Steve’s and cut 2 more of the songs. IN MY MOVIE sounded great. And it was about Feb 1 by this time. Steve’s way of recording the guitar was to have me play his ’71 les paul straight into his ’69 JMP 50 watt marshall, cranked fuck-all loud to high heaven. It sounded great. And see, Steve HATED, absolutely DISPISED pedals so we couldn’t use our baby, the Red Snapper. But it worked out really great. And Jillian was flying in the next day.
And also Nick was back and we did all the keyboards in one day. We were waiting for Lisa Marie Presley’s Keyboardist, Linda Good, to get some time to come down to the studio, as she was in rehearsals for an upcoming LMP tour. (she’s also sang vocals on some demos Rusty and I made for the Jillian record.) Linda was a gem to work with and she blew our minds with her talent and sounds and all around great attitude. We then had Probyn Gregory stop by and do some trumpet and trombone work and then pretty much all the background music was done. All that was left were some other guitar stuff, percussion, a few guitar solos and Jillian’s lead vocals. Rusty and I had done many of the background vocals at Nick’s, including ALL the backing vox on WOULDN’T IT BE NICE. We took a few days off and got ready for the lead vocal recording dates, which would be Feb 3 to Feb 14. The schedule would be Monday-Saturday from noon to 6pm so she’d have her voice right and so she could do her homework. Yes, we had to work with homework obstacles! But when she stepped to the microphone I don’t think anyone was prepared for the voice they were about to hear. I don’t think I’ve smiled that much since.and our budget was shrinking fast, switching between studios and we weren’t even mixing yet. The mixing itself was nearly 15% of the budget. We were 2 weeks from being done with the recording and then it was gonna be another 2 weeks of mixing then another week of mastering. On Feb 3 we showed up to STANLEY RECORDING STUDIO in Venice and John Would was engineering the vocals. We brought him the hardrive so he’d have a jump start the day before and Rusty and me went to the Tavern for pints, not quite sure what to expect from Jillian’s voice. In the meantime, LOVE had some gigs cancelled in LA and then a last minute CoachHouse show was added. We didn’t really want to do it (for reasons I’d rather not say) but decided not to fight it. It was now Stella time and we decided to leave the ‘B.S.’ behind for once.
all the best,