On Monday night I experienced a real recording studio for the first time.

We scheduled three hours to record three tracks.  With the parts ready to go, practiced over and over with a metronome, one hour per song seemed plenty.  I knew it would take longer than I expected, but I was surprised by the 7 hours we spent that night.  It’s a good thing Sophie thought to bring a few six packs and chocolate.

After fighting rush-hour Denver traffic I almost missed the studio.  The building was much smaller and less imposing than I expected:

When we drove by it was already totally dark outside, making this building seem even smaller

Everyone arrived within 5 minutes of each other.  We started setting up the drumset at 6:30PM.  An hour and a half later the mics on the drums and bass were finally ready to go.  I think there were 7 or 8 on the drumset alone.

The drums with the mics

At 8:00 PM we finally started recording.  I was in a hallway with a window through to Brendan and Ben in the main room.  Sophie stayed out of the first recording, becoming instead an invaluable advisor and active listener.  Chris stayed in the main room with the computers and monitors, plugged directly in.

Darren was an excellent technician. Chris, the keyboard, Sophie, and the other two technicians were all sitting in this room as well.

We did three takes of each track.  Everyone could hear the final product through the headphones or monitors.  Sophie and Darren made comments for stuff to work on between takes.

The main recording space. My hallway was through the window in the door.

It was past 9:30 by then.  I was having a blast (it was incredibly fun to record with this top-of-the-line equipment), but I was starting to worry about money and time.  After all, it costs $50 per hour to be in the studio, and we still had to mix and master everything at the same price.  Darren advised us to be careful though, and go through all the steps.  I agreed so we sat down to listen to just drums, bass, and keys.  We fixed a few parts on the keys quickly by dropping them in, and decided we were happy with the rhythm tracks.

Now we had to rerecord guitar and then vocals.  And finally Sophie’s harmonies and then Brendan’s cello part.  That meant, all going well, each song had to be rerecorded 4 more times, plus all the time between.  Woah, definitely a process.

Second takes of vocals and guitars, the window behind me leads to the computers, beer, and my friends.

When my parts were done I finally drank one of the best beers I have had in a while.  For some reason I always have 90 Shilling handy at the most important times.  The boys cuddled on the couch while we recorded Sophia and then cello.

Loving cuddles at 12:00AM

As the tracks consolidated and were burned onto a CD, we finished the beer, cleaned up, and hugged a lot.  Darren, bless his heart, had left as soon as the recording was done so he could bring his little one to school super early the next morning.  Seamus, a great friend and awesome engineer, took this picture of us just before we all drove to our respective homes.

Tired out after seven hours in the studio

The tracks still need to be mixed and mastered.  They will be ready for listening by the second week of January!

Less is More

less is more

I’ve just finished reading an article entitled “The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown.  McKeown explores the idea that, like our closets, our lives get cluttered by too many activities, opportunities, and passions to really pursue anything to the fullest.  The article argues that to be “successful” you must find the intersection of your talent, passions, and the needs of the world:

The ideas resonated with me, as I’m constantly reaching out to a million possibilities right now.  I’ve “committed to music” and yet I find myself spreading out in numerous directions.  Spending time and energy debating about other opportunities and applying to jobs that, while possibly good moves for some career… might not help in this career.  It is a huge challenge to focus my energy on regularly playing or putting as much time into this music as I would into a job.  There has been some progress to this end though…

As we gear up to record, I’ve finally found myself putting the “work” time into my music.  Analyzing and writing out my songs so people can join in, arranging, practicing to a metronome, updating my website, and networking in an effort to start setting up more performances.

How my room looks after I have a day to myself… musical tools end up spread about the space rather haphazardly.

Surrounded by Talented People


Last night I drove down to Denver.  So exhausted from four late nights of work in a row, I would have tried to bail on almost anything else.  Tonight though, I was meeting with a few people to play in a band for a few legitimate recordings.  I was energized within a short time of being there.  Meet the group:

Ben Felson: Ben is an incredible drummer/percussionist who plays for quite a few bands in the Denver/Boulder area.

Chris Kolodey: Chris is not only an incredible keys player, but a musician who can pick up any instrument and make it sound great within a couple of minutes.  He’s adding some organ, some piano, and some keyboard to the pieces we’re recording.
 Brendan O’Donoghue is… well… probably a super hero (picture provided by Chris)
With his four arms he is managing to play both stand-up bass and cello in these recordings… at times simultaneously.  He plays often in the Colorado Springs/Denver area and is an incredible jazz musician.
 Sophia Herscu: a woman of many talents, Sophia is currently pursuing a professional degree in ariel dance.  Her history of musical theater and singing in bands throughout her life make her quick to come up with beautiful harmonies.  We have the opportunity to play together often in our treehouse apartment.
 Having four incredibly talented musicians to work with is a privilege indeed.  The amount of talent that’s at your fingertips when putting music together and writing is exponentially increased.  The first rehearsal was a huge success.  If we can book the studio time we’ll have three tracks recorded before Christmas.  I can’t wait to show everyone what we’ve come up with!