Bad Sun - This recording session was typical
of all my "private" recording projects,
fast. I prefer to record in a nice studio so I have
to finish the session in five days or I'll never
make my money back. We recorded each song live,
except the vocal tracks, with almost no punch-ins.
I used an Egnater pre-amp powered with a VHT power
amp through a Marshall cab in one channel and a
Marshall 50 watt head and cab in the other. The
amps are mostly panned right and left but on some
tracks, where the guitar is mono, I scratched the
Marshall track and panned the Egnater straight up.
Egnater makes a great pre-amp with different amp
modules that you can plug in, for this session I
used a Marshall type module. I also used a HAO "Royal
Rumble" or "Sole Pressure" for the
solos, sometimes, in combination. I used my 1960
Fender Stratocaster on all the tracks except for
"Bug Lips." I used my trusty Warmoth,
"Betty" on the track.
other musicians on the recording were Tetsuya
Hoshiyama on the drums, if you have my "Prospects"
release, you will already be familiar with him,
and Kenichi Fujisawa on the bass. Aki Sakuma plays
the bass on the only instrumental tune on the
CD, "Bug Lips."
1st, 2005 - We got in the studio around ten
in the morning and set our stuff up. I had my
amps in an isolation booth and ran a line to them
so I could stay with the other two guys in the
big room. The engineer, Takeshi Fujimura miked
the amps with two 57s and used, I don't know,
maybe a Sennheiser for an ambient mike.
think the first tune we recorded was "Tell
Me a Story" which went off okay I guess.
The amps sounded great, but I was having a lot
of problems getting a decent sound through the
headphones and was struggling a bit with my guitar.
It's funny, when you can't get your sound, the
guitar becomes physically difficult to play, and
that is what happened on this day. I was struggling
to play up to my usual level the whole time but
figured I would just deal with it. We also recorded
"Revelation," "Bug Lips,"
and "Come Out Baby." Knocked four songs
out, two or three takes a piece. Aki Sakuma came
in to do "Bug Lips" and gave Ken a break.
As I said, I was struggling with my guitar and
was in a shitty mood because of it. I remember
bitching at them cause they were over-playing
for my solo. I gave up because I couldn't get
a decent solo happening and decided to punch in
the solo on a later date. That pretty much ended
the session for the day. I got home about eight
at night and played with my daughter but had problems
sleeping. I knew my playing wasn't up to par and
decided to scratch "Come Out Baby" and
"Revelation" and re-record them. I also
decided that I would work on my monitor mix so
I could play better. Should have done this in
the first place instead of wasting a day in the
studio. The last thing I wanted to do is release
a mediocre CD, especially if I had to pay for
2nd - Got in at eleven and worked on my headphone
mix with the engineer. Finally got it right, added
a little delay and the whole sound came together.
We re-recorded "Revelation" and "Come
Out Baby" without any problems.
nailed both the solos on "Revelation"
so didn't punch anything in. I think I punched
in the middle solo on "Come Out Baby"
maybe once. We ate lunch and where back at it
by one o'clock and recorded "Sweet Melissa."
Two takes, no punch-ins on this one. "Sweet
Melissa" was written for my baby daughter,
a ten bar blues.
then moved on to "Love Dog" and this
one too went off without any train wrecks or discussions.
Maybe three takes for this one also, and no punch-ins.
I played a long ass guitar solo on the end and
planned to do a fade for the CD. I originally
wrote this on the acoustic guitar and always planned
to keep it that way. Just for the hell of it,
I got the guys to play it with me during shows
and ended up liking the way it sounded with a
trio so I decided to record that way.
on the list "Big Bad Sun." I originally
recorded a version of this number that I was crazy
for, when I recorded "Prospects." I
planned to use that version on this CD but the
engineer lost the data. Typical lost recording
story that makes you want to cry and kill yourself
for not getting the data. I liked the original
version of the song so much I had absolutely no
interest in re-recording it but had no choice.
We knocked this one off in two takes with no punch-ins.
I still have the original pre-mastered recording
of "Big Bad Sun" but no data. If I compare
them now, the original version still sounds great
but the new version is fine too. It's really hard
to recreate the magic of some recordings so make
sure you get all the recording data (or tapes)
and don't trust anyone with them.
last song we did on this day was "House on
the Hill" and that too went down without
any punch-ins. I used a Voodoo Lab, Micro-Vibe
on the last solo that sounds pretty mean, if I
do say so myself. It's embarrassing to admit,
but it took me twenty years of guitar playing
to figure out that the Uni-Vibe was the thing
that makes that Jimi Hendrix sound that I've always
wanted since I was twelve years old. I have a
Uni-Vibe also but for some reason prefer using
the "Micro Vibe." I used it on this
tune and on the second solo in "Revelation."
session went on 'till about ten or eleven at night.
After we were done recording I asked the assistant
to give me the song times and was surprised to
find out that the CD was only going to be a little
over a half hour. Not long enough to justify a
normal price so when I got home that night I took
a long bath and wrote the lyrics for "Some
Sympathy" and although I had originally planned
to only record the vocal tracks and do some guitar
punch-ins the next day, I decided to record "Some
Sympathy" first thing in the morning.
4th - Last day recording. Got in at ten and
did "Some Sympathy." Got this one done
in three takes, again no punch-ins. A minor blues
and a jam song, so I jammed on the end, two or
three minutes of guitar solos. Cranked up the
gain on the amps for the punch-in on "Bug
Lips" and got it right this time. I spent
more time than I usually do on this punch-in but,
what the hell, you do what you gotta do sometimes
to get it right. I think I may have played four
or five solos and kept the best one.
also recorded the acoustic guitar track for the
intro of "Love Dog." The producer brought
down his Martin guitar for me to use and we pulled
up the carpet on the studio floor so you can hear
my foot tapping. We wanted a traditional sounding
recording for the intro so he miked it from about
a meter away and equalized it to sound like it
was recorded in the 30's. Recorded all the eight
vocal tracks after this and called it quits for
5th - Mixed the whole recording from ten in
the morning till nine thirty the next morning.
When I got home my wife had just woken up and
was ready to go to the beach with our daughter
Melissa. I was dead tired but sometimes you have
to do these things if you want to keep harmony
in the family.
7th - Over the week I listened to the music
over and over again. This is what you have to
do to make sure that you don't need to fix the
mix or punch-in something that didn't turn out
the way you planned. The monitors in the studio
sound great so you can easily be fooled. That's
why it is important to bring it home and listen
to it in your usual stereo or in your car. By
this time my wife was ready to throw up every
time I put it in the stereo. I travel a lot in
the music school's car so I listened to it in
there too and found myself very unsatisfied with
the mix. The bass drum was way to loud and the
bass was raging, my guitar and vocals sounded
tiny in comparison. I was ready to go ballistic
when I realized the guy that uses the car most
of the time changed the equalizer to his favorite
disco setting, erasing all the mids and boosting
the bass. When I fixed the eq, the mix sounded
fine. The only problem I found with the mix was
that "Tell Me a Story" was a little
to wet for such a traditional type song. Other
than that, my vocals in "Big Bad Sun"
where making me crazy. I got the engineer back
into the studio on June 7th and punched-in a few
vocal parts on "Big Bad Sun" and had
him bring down the level of the delay on the guitar
on "Tell Me a Story." He, of course,
like all engineers started to re-EQ things, compress
this that and the other thing, re-mix this and
that and we ended up in the studio 'till the next
morning again. But, I was finally happy with the
mix and ready to get it mastered. So to summarize
the whole session, we basically took three days
to record and two days to mix the whole thing.
Pretty good considering some CDs take a year to
27th - Brought the DAT down to Crown Recording
Studios and had it mastered. If you have ever
been in a mastering session, I don't have to tell
you that it is boring. Mastering is a funny thing
if you think about it, the engineer takes your
digital master and bounces it to an analog tape
to make it sound more, well analog and then turns
it back into digital info and burns you a master
to send to whoever presses it. Digital technology
is everywhere and in all recording studios and
engineers go nuts trying to make every recording
sound "analog." Anyway, the whole thing
took about five or six hours and the final result
was a good sounding recording.