It’s all coming together nicely!
I went for another day of tracking last week to start working on the keyboard and bass parts. I had a little more prepared creatively this time. We also got some simple percussion parts done.
One of the songs called for a really simple bass drum, like a heart beat. Another really wanted a stomp, kind of like on a porch.
What do I mean by that? Well I don’t totally understand it myself, but when I’m writing a song, I’ve got a sound in my mind and an image that the song would paint.
Then I’m trying to make it a reality. That just means first trying out what I think would make the sound I’m seeking, and then adjusting as I go. It could end up that the sound actually doesn’t work. Or it might just not be enough. Or it’s just perfect.
So although the song isn’t actually calling me up and saying “hey I need some stomp sounds,” 😂 there’s just some undefinable hole in a song that needs filling. Through experimentation, daydreaming, and listening back to recordings, I can hopefully figure out what will fill it and make the song feel complete.
For the heart beat pulse, it was pretty straightforward. We got a giant kick drum (or maybe it was just a bass drum?) and beat it to the music. 🤔 Simple right? Nope- we still had to move the mic around, mess with the dampening, practice even consistent strikes, and then EQ it to really get the warmth I wanted.
I needed a stomp sound in another song, and that was fun figuring out. Previously we had just been wandering around the studio smacking stuff and stomping on everything to see what kind of sounds we had available. Eventually we settled on some scraps of wood, stacked in a way to leave a little gap above the floor. Then we stuck a mic on it. You can get an idea of the final product by watching a clip on my instagram.
Certain impacts just gave off slightly weird sounds to me, so it took more focus than I thought to pull it off right. I used some worn out Toms (shoes)to minimize any squeaking, and through trial and error, found the perfect spot to stomp on the boards for that sweet porch tone I was after.
Finally, we worked on some keyboard parts. We tried working on the Wurlitzer, but it just wasn’t happening, so we stuck with the piano and Rhodes. If you don’t know, a Rhodes piano is like an electric guitar, there are little metal bars that are struck by hammers. Then little magnets pick up the signal (like electric guitar pickups) and send it out to an amp. They’re fantastic fun.
So then I was playing along with the tracks that needed it. At least that’s what I thought. It didn’t work out with every song. 😅
Some parts I played were too busy, and some not busy enough. Not every song has keys and we still have to get some organ in one song. At least, I think we do. 😁
I won’t know for sure until we try it out. Til the next time I go, I will be writing and trying different parts on my own that I think could fit in.
We also tracked the bass parts. I think my hands were too used to tiny fretboards at this point. I often play on a short scale bass, and that’s what I played on “Without You.” I was playing around with it to write some bass lines, and felt pretty happy with what I was thinking.
I wanted a regular scale bass for the last songs, so I decided to use the Studio's bass. It didn’t really work well. My hands felt clumsy and sloppy and whatever bass lines I had written were poorly played or lacked the energy I thought they had.
I don’t know what it is, but things just sound different in the studio.
So, my producer Mike ended up playing the bass. He had some awesome ideas. We just played it, listened back, played it differently, cut it out at certain points in the song, and eventually had something awesome.
Wow this is long.
We really did a lot, huh?
If you read this far, you’re awesome! Thanks for checking it out and being so interested in this journey.
I tried to keep it brief while still giving good insight. I hope you got something out of it.
Until next time, cheers and aloha!
(here's a little clip of me messing around on the Rhoades)