All Writing and Photography © Alex Livingstone/Owner's Closet

Friday, February 26, 2010

Grand Champeen in the studio

The next Grand Champeen album, tentatively titled "Feelgood M.D.," has been in the works for quite sometime now. Just a few words to bridge the gap between it and the last record...

It's hard to believe that "Dial T" came out three years ago. In fact, it's so hard to believe that I think I'm plain wrong about it being three years. Nope. Here we go...the All Music Guide* says March 13, 2007. Damn. Anyway, it's really taken that long for the fervor to die down. In the three years since the "Dial T" CD release party at Emo's we've been knee deep in the hoopla surrounding it release and astounding success. It's only recently we've realized that we've actually been ankle deep in the poopla.

By the time we went to mix the last album, its songs had been decided on and road tested well in advance. So when it comes to our next album's tracks, it was in between the aforementioned decision making process and the release of "Dial T For This" that some of them were written. After a few photos I took at a Trinity University radio gig the week "Dial T" was released, we'll move on to the newer songs...

"Haste to Mobilize" and "Just Want To Get You Alone" were both probably written in 2006. I know that "Get You Alone" was around for awhile because it's on the "Georgia Style" tapes. I know "Haste" was written in the fall of 2006 because I wrote it. I also know that "Because of You" came from summer 2007 because I wrote it at the beach on the nylon string guitar. I've always wanted to record a version where a nylon string guitar is the main guitar in a style like I've heard some Violent Femmes and Dead Milkmen songs. "Fakin' the Sound" and "Get Back To The Quiet" are also of a slightly older vintage, due to their emergence on some home demoing Channing did a ways back. None of that really matters though because if they were all written tomorrow, recorded next week, and released in June 2010, the recorded version would be the same one you're gonna (hopefully) be listening to in June of 2020.

The following "diary entries" are from a few weeks last fall when we finished recording the basic tracks for the next Grand Champeen record. I was on a bit of a write-it-down jag which is why there's any written record of the events, represented here verbatim. Right now, it looks like the album will contain 12 songs and with the basics for three having already been recorded
we knocked out the nine tracks we needed. Our gear was all in one room so that we'd be in a comfortable rehearsal-style situation. This set up was decided on because we've realized that we're a rock band and headphones aren't condusive to the kind of music we play. To satisfy this recording concept, we came up with a one-room setup that resulted in suprisingly little bleed between instruments. If a loud rock band like Grand Champeen can record clean basic tracks with all of their gear in the same room, we proved that people tend to get too uptight about isolation and "pristine' recording. Fuck that anyway. We already made that album.

So, the basics for "Gone With the Wind" and "Because of You" were recorded sometime in 2008, I believe. PGPA was recorded and mixed in April of 2009. The rest of the basics were done in October.

Ned and I got to the studio around 9:45 and we found Crow and Channing setting up amps and mics. Ned's drums were in the large part of the room and our three amps were on the other side. Our objective is to track live like we're at practice, for the natural feel. Headphones blow.
Channing was having some trouble with a microphonic tube so he spent sometime troubleshooting that.

We got some more sounds and recorded a bit to make sure all ps put levels were good. Ned had been sick and was still feeling bad and decided to go home and get rest and start the project in earnest on Tuesday. There was some discussion about drum sounds, too. So Channing, Crow and I stuck around to evaluate the drums sounds we had. There were/are so many combinations of mics to use, we had to whiddle them down to a few to check out what we had. It was decided that the snare and the floor tom needed attention. Ned was quite concerned with the kick so after analysing it we realised we had a good one. It was decided what to do the next day and we said goodnight.

This was a productive day that started with Crow and I going to Guitar Center for direct injection boxes. He wanted to be able to have a solid DI signal for the three guitar in case we wanted to screw with their sounds down the road.

Back at the studio, he and I went on a tone quest so that his guitar rig would be ready to go. We also set up a U87 five feet out from the kick to get more rromy, mid-rangey sound. Also, Crow set up a couple more room mics for options. When we all got back together, it was jam time. We tracked versions of "Get Back To The Quiet," "Haste To Mobilize," "Records and Tapes" and Fakin' The Sound." It was a good night and we all felt comfy in the recording scenario. No phones, guide vox, bullshit. Live, practice space, rock band.

We jumped right in with some "Golden Wheel." Sounded great. I think we tracked a few takes of "Just Want To Get You Alone" and "Fakin the Sound." We spent some time rehearsing "You've Got Your Rivals" which is one of Chan's newest. It hasn't seen as much time on the practice field as most of the other pkayers. We also lit up a few takes of "Root and Branch" but decided to revisit it Thursday. Last of the night was a "She Saw A Rainbow" and it was decided to visit it Thursday as well. All in all, a great night in the studio. One of our most productive, ever.

Epiphany and Setback. I walk in and the MCI won't stay on. Something is wrong with the power supply. Damn! We rehearse the songs and spend a little time on "Rainbow" then call it.


After a few days of inactivity due to the MCI's illness, Hough brought the board back to life and we reconvened after I got off work. We dove straight in to a faster, peppier version of "Back To The Quiet." Good decision on our behalves. We then got keepers of "Root and Branch" and "You've Got Your Rivals." The last to get tackled that night was "She Saw A Rainbow." We got through a whole take but decided to come back to it the next night. At this point we had basics for everything except "She Saw A Rainbow" which is awesome!

We reconvene between 9 and 10 and get right after "Rainbow." After a few tries we got a solid take. It had been decided to use a click and I think it helped tremendously. Since we had ironed out the structure, we were able to float through it by memory. While the click stiffened things up a bit and some of the ebb and flow that we were used to was smoothed over, I think it ultimately strengthened the track. While Chan and Ned weren't sold at the end of the night, I was.

Channing and I returned to the studio to punch anything that needed fixing. I had a couple punched to do, mainly "The Golden Wheel." Chan may have only fixed one song too. The general feel was, "that's fine" or "that's great, leave it."

Hole in the Wall gig.

Channing recorded vocals for "Fakin the Sound" and one other song.

I did scratch vocals for all of my tunes so there would be a reference for any work the guys did/do while I'm in NC.

Tuesday (many months later)
Tracked vocals for "Haste To Mobilize" and "Because of You."

Crow rhythm guitar to "Because Of You" recorded.

*The All Music Guide doesn't have me listed as a member of the fucking band. Nor does it have me credited for writing my songs on "Dial T." Whoever writes that stuff is an idiot. The internet is full of holes.

1 comment:

themikedubose said...

I love this post...not only does it let me know y'all are still active, it also is really informative. My last band tried really hard to do multitracking in the "one at a time" method, and it sucked. Glad you made the "put everyone in a room" style work. Question: any idea when y'all will release this?