I'm making a new record! This will be my first full-length, professionally produced CD, with professional musicians. There will be ten songs-- some never recorded before, a couple of songs written by other people, and some previously recorded songs with new arrangements. The record is being produced and engineered by John McVey, at Coupe Studios in Boulder, Colorado.
John and I have finished what are called the "pre-production" sessions. There were five of these in May and June. In these sessions, we worked out what songs should be on the record, the tempo for each song, the arrangements, and even modifications to the songwriting in some cases. We then record acoustic guitar and vocal demo or "scratch" tracks to a click track so they'll be at the right tempo. These will be the tracks that the drummer and bass player will play to. The scratch tracks will then be deleted as the final tracks are recorded.
John had a lot of good ideas for my songs. In terms of tempo, he speeded some up, and slowed others down. He changed the key on several. He suggested I write a bridge for "Bipolar". He had good suggestions in terms of arrangements-- how many lines for the introduction, the ending, solos, etc.
Here's the songs that will be on the record:
The tentative title for the album is Misfit.
Next step: drums and bass on the July 17 weekend!
Over the weekend of July 17-18, John brought in drummer Christian Teele and bassist Chris Engleman to lay down their parts. Those guys were great. Chris laid down solid bass parts with perfect time. Christian had some very creative ideas for the drum parts, especially on "Me", "Misfit", and "Little White Boy".
Then this past Friday and Saturday, I began laying down the electric and acoustic guitar parts. We worked on "Falling into Heaven", "Misfit", "Little White Boy", and "You Could Have Had Me". Generally, I threw my guitar arrangement ideas for these songs at John, and then he came up with some great ideas for modifications, that improve the arrangements significantly. It's developing into a great working relationship. I love working with good musicians and creative people; I'm having a blast!
Last week, I finished the acoustic guitar tracks for all the songs. Then on Saturday, July 31, John brought in Eric Moon to lay down some keyboard parts. Eric is a very talented guy, technically great, creative, and learns a song very fast. He played everything from grand piano to accordian, to various synth sounds, including some great B3 organ parts. But damn, I just noticed I forgot to take a picture of him. Oh well you can see him on his website.
Tonight and Thursday I go back in and resume work on the electric guitar parts. We're getting there. It's fun building the songs up.
Last Tuesday and Thursday night (August 3 and 5) I went to the studio to lay down some electric guitar tracks for the songs. As it turned out, I didn't record any; John ended up playing the tracks instead of me. I realized what a good guitar player he is, and what a creative guitar player he is. He has a really good sense of what type of guitar layers would help a song the most-- what kind of guitar tone, what style of playing, when to play and when not to play, and so forth. This is very rare. I also think that is also my strongest talent as a musician. But John is a better guitar player than me. So we kicked ideas around, then I handed my guitar to him and he laid it down. They sound great!
We've now got electric guitar finished on about half the songs. We resume next Tuesday August 10.
Since the the last update, John brought in banjo player Kyle Hauser to add a track to "Little White Boy", and John added an electric guitar track to that and a few more songs. It's sounding great! Guitar work is almost done, and we're exploring ideas for bit parts from other musicians on a few songs. We start lead vocals next week.
I just realized I haven't updated this in a month. Sorry y'all! Here's what we've been doing since the last update:
John McVey, my producer and engineer, went to John Macy's studio and John laid down a steel guitar track for "Chair on the Moon". And he brought in Greg Schochet to add mandolin to "Invisible Prison", and also some small parts to "Apollo's Little Bastard" and "Falling into Heaven". Bill Kahler composed and remotely recorded a sax section and sax solo from his home studio in Georgia for "Bipolar". Finally I recorded a guitar solo to "Little White Boy".
Then we started on lead vocals. There was about a 3-week break while John was on vacation. I used that time to take another singing lesson from my singing teacher, Dr. Scott Martin, and work on the vocal exercises John gave me. I think it's helped. We've recorded lead vocals on 4 of the 10 songs. I hope to get the others done in the next 2 weeks. Then John will bring in Colorado singer-songwriter Megan Burtt, and the two of them will work out the backing vocals. So all recording will be done in the next few weeks, and on to mixing!
Since the last update, we completed the lead vocals and the backing vocals. Backing vocals were done mostly by Megan Burtt and John McVey. We brought in "Something About Lulu"-- Patty Jackson, Bylo Farmer and Angie Holley-- to sing on "The Screwup Song". We start mixing next week.
Everything has been recorded. That's a big milestone. We started mixing. We've had 4 sessions, about 5 hours each. We now have initial mixes of all 10 songs. Now John and I will listen to those mixes and draw up a list of changes. Is the snare drum too loud? Are the cymbols too low? Is the lead vocal too loud? Not loud enough? That one word at the end of the third line of the second verse needs a little boost. Maybe we should wait to bring the electric guitar in on the second verse? That's the sort of thing we're listening for.
I've been sending early pre-mixes to my "patrons" who are funding the record, and getting feedback from them. If you want to be a Patron of the Arts, it's not too late. Click on the box on the left column of this page.
But even on the first round of mixes, the songs sound GREAT! John has done a fantastic job as both an engineer and producer. Yes, I'm biased, but I think there will be a lot of people who will like this record
Now I've got to get with the CD artwork design people and get moving on that. More on that in the next update....
We've done the first round of mixing of all 10 songs, listened to them, and the last two nights, John and I have tweaked 6 of them. We'll get the last 4 done, give 'em all one more listen, and one final tweak, then it's off to Airshow for mastering.
I've hired the team of Salli Ratts and Greg Carr to design the CD artwork. Salli and Greg don't do normal CD artwork. Their stuff is 3 dimensional, fun, crazy, goofy stuff. I first heard about them when I was shown the work they did for Steve Martin's first bluegrass CD. When you open it, Steve pops up at you with is banjo. I knew right then I wanted these guys to do a CD for me. I think that, in this age of digital downloads, the artist has to give the people a reason to buy the physical CD. The reason is the visual, the physical-- the artwork has to be cool; it has to be the reason people buy the physical CD rather than just download the music. You can see what Salli and Greg have done for Steve Martin, The Boulder Acoustic Society, and others at their website-- although you can't get the full impact on a 2-dimensional computer website.
We finished mixing last night! The songs sound great! Now it's off to Airshow for mastering, and we begin work on the CD artwork.
The fundraising campaign for this record ends 5 days from now, on November 30. So if you would like to be a "Patron of the Arts" and pre-order this CD, please click on the kickstarter box to the left right away and make a pledge. For a minimum pledge of $25 you will get an autographed copy of the CD before it is released to the public, your name printed in the thank you section of the CD, and other benefits depending on your level of support as described on the Kickstarter website.
Thank you all again for your support!
The audio portion of the record is done. It's mixed and mastered. There's been a delay in the artwork for various reasons. Hopefully that will get going in the next couple of weeks.
I raised a total of $1,955 from my fans to help finance this record. That's fantastic! Thank you so much!
The CD artwork is, unfortunately, taking much longer than I thought it would. But the artist told me that it would be done by mid-February and that I would have the CD's in my hand by March 15. So there you go, we have a release date--March 15!
Since I've made you wait so long for the CD release I put up a sneak preview of one of the songs, "Apollo's Little Bastard". Click on the Music tab at the top of the page. I'll leave it up for a few days.
The artwork has been completed, I approved the last changes on February 21. The CD Master has been sent to a replication company. My graphics artist is waiting for price quotes from printers for the CD packaging. Hopefully we will get those very soon so we can select a printer and get the packages done.
I have hired someone to promote my record nationally. We are looking at a release date around mid-to-late April.
I put another sneak preview on my website. Remember the title song of my last EP, "Me"? The song has rhythm; I thought it needed drums; so I re-did it on the new record. I'll leave it up for a week.
The CD's have been replicated and are in shipment. The artwork has been sent to the printer. The CD's should go to assembly later this week. We're gettin' there! I've set a release date for April 26. Of course, my "Patrons" will receive their copies a month early. Promotion efforts are underway. I can't wait for y'all to hear it. I think it sounds really good, but then, I'm a little biased. :)
The artwork printing took longer than forecast, so we have to push the release date back to May 17. But it's worth the wait. The artwork is great. I can promise you that you haven't seen CD artwork like this before. Hang in there friends, it's just a month-and-a-half, May 17 will be here in no time. Meanwhile I'm working with my promotion guy to get ready for the release. I posted the cover on the Music page. Click "Music" on the navigation bar above.
The record is done. Recorded, mixed, mastered, artwork designed, package printed, CD's duplicated, CD's assembled into packaging. Promotion people hired, CD's shipped off to reviewers and radio promoter. Promo video made. My beloved Patrons of the Arts have received their pre-release copies. CD's sold to fans at my recent shows. Now we're just waiting for the May 17 release date.
I redesigned the website to focus on Misfit. I've created a new page for it under the Music tab. It's time to say goodbye to this page. Well, not exactly. I can't just take it down. I'll keep it up on the site. It will now be the journal documenting the making of this record. I'll put a link to it on the Misfit page (that's how you got to it, most likely). Thanks to all of you who have been following the making of my first full-length record. It's been a great experience for me. --Rob