Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Recording Week 1 (Drums)

After a summer of writing, months of practicing, years of procrastinating and weeks of aggressive facial hair growth Algernon Cadwallader is finally back in the studio working on our 2nd full length album. I will be documenting this process here. This will be the first Algernon Cadwallader recording done from start to finish in our warehouse studio. More info on the studio and it's engineers can be found at headroomphiladelphia.blogspot.com. The studio is very comfortable and familiar to us which should ensure relaxed sessions and plenty of time to experiment (with drugs) but there is a looming fear of our sense of timing entering a black hole and the record taking way too long to record. We've set a mastering date we aim to keep it. Just about everything will be tracked to a 24 channel 2" tape machine and then dumped into the computer to mix and touch up.

First things first, the drums. We begin with brand new heads on everything, WD-40'ing and cleaning all the lugs along the way. The kit is a 60's Slingerland that Tank bought and restored. He then called every drummer he knew in the city asking to borrow their snare drums so we have options. Meanwhile Joe took his Guitar Center credit card to get us a nice pair of overhead microphones. Conveniently Guitar Center has an awesome return policy that allowed us 11 days with our new toys before we could return them without paying a dime. We have our first deadline. 11 days to track drums. With 13 or 14 songs to record we are confident this will be an ample amount of time. Drums are up and mic'ed and sounding great as ever. We got the fattest snare sound of all time. Like Fat Albert's stomach after doing crunches for a week straight and beat with a small child's arm. We track a song and agree that it doesn't exactly fit the style of the new jams. This decision turned into 3 long grueling full days of of hunting the perfect snare sound. Admittedly we panicked. We tried snare after snare with every combination of microphones we could think of. Hours and days passed and we weren't getting any closer. Our roommates who are an earshot away were giving us dirty looks and wouldn't give us any of their cookies. We took 1 step forward and 2 steps back until we finally made it all the way back to square one. Tank's Rogers snare with the almighty Shure SM-57 aimed for the center.

At this point Tank is sick as a dog and also under pressure to study for 2 nursing exams. We drink to relieve the stress which brightens our moods but hinders our productivity. Tracking is slow but we're happy with the results. It's the 5th or 6th day of recording, we've finally got things underway and we run out of tape. We get our tapes used from the infamous "The Studio" a few blocks away but they aren't picking up our phone calls. We lose another day and a half because we are tapeless. Eventually we get in touch and take a field trip over there. It's a comically amazing studio. Joe was drooling over their outboard gear that we've only seen replicas of in programs like Logic and ProTools. There is a 30 foot long hallway covered in platinum records that were cut there by some of our favorite artists like R Kelly and Boys II Men. The people there are super nice and it chronically reeks of weed smoke. Montez is on and off of the phone arranging a midnight session for Sean Kingston and Justin Beiber who are in town for the night. We buy 3 more tapes and get back to the warehouse. We finish all the songs for the record in the next day and a half as well as a couple other jams and a cover since we have everything set up. We wake up around noon the following afternoon and give everything a listen with fresh ears. It sounds good but brutal honestly prevails. Joe has sonic issues. I think tempos are off. Tank vents about school and taking his dogs out. We have about 5 hours left to return the overhead mics before we get charged for them. In less than high spirits we proceed to re-record just about every song. We fill up the last of the tapes with worthwhile takes, Joe returns the microphones in time, we sleep well and hard. Until next time...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fest 9 Feelin' Fine

Photo: Chris Teti
The Fest is kind of like the bus from Speed. Once it's started there is no stopping or getting off until the end of the ride. It's always seems like it's on the verge of exploding and killing everyone in Gainesville. That's why we get there bright and early on the first day to soak up the November sun in the Fest pool at Holiday Inn. We all want to have a healthy smile and a little color on our face when we go out. Fest 9, our third Fest, was no exception. At the pool we were reunited with our buddies 1994! and Big Kids who left from Philly two weeks prior as well as a bunch of other awesome bands and people from around the globe we'd not seen for much longer. Around dusk we split up and wandered off to see some shows. We hopped on a warehouse show that started about 2 am and at 5 in the morning scrambled to the last unsanitary motel in town with a vacancy. Check out was at 11 so our rest was merely a necessity. We headed to Common Grounds where our real fest show was and where we would drink for free today. I liked seeing bands at the venue in previous years but I was not as stoked to be playing there. The stage is pretty big and there's less of the DIY vibe than at the Kickstand where we had played the last 2 years. Fortunately Annabel played before us, borrowed all of our stuff, and sounded amazing so I felt better about the lack lustre sound on stage. At the end of the night Joe was elated to hear he had drunk more band beer than anyone else at the show. We started our Sunday at the holy Reggae Shack with a delicious meal for 11. Joe went back to the pool and got wasted on cheap craft beers for 8 hours. Needless to say he was difficult to find when we finally were ready to make the drive back to Philadelphia after the last of the shows had ended. Some other sick band I was able to catch this year were the Max Levine Ensemble, Chinese Telephones, the Underground Railroad to Candyland, and the Catalyst. 18 hours later we pulled into the driveway and walked inside only to find a tapped keg and a group of friends gathering for our roommate Greg's birthday. The party never fucking stops.