Prune juice and vodka for everyone.

Weiner War

Hollow Weiner weekend is coming to an end. At least we’ll always have the charcoal stains to remember it by.

My Halloween was not spent doing anything scary at all. Instead, Travis came over and we had some fun with one of his songs. I’ve been talking about wanting to do something more layered for a while now, and I finally got the opportunity to do just that — with someone else’s music.

I wish I’d captured some of the recording process on video, because it was really interesting how things took shape, and two guys doing a whole lot of different things is much more visually interesting than just one guy doing a whole lot of different things. Maybe next time.

Random ideas became accidental epiphanies. I thought it would be fun to try recording harmonies with both of us singing into one microphone (the Pearlman TM-1 in omni — still putting a smile on my ears all the time and never needing any EQ no matter what’s in front of it) and then double-tracking it, to eat up less tracks and just to see how it sounded. Having more than one person around a microphone is hardly a new concept in the world of recording, but it’s not something I often get to try. The result was a huge, organic, almost quasi-gospel vocal sound.

Later on, Travis suggested plugging his sexy Martin acoustic guitar into my little forty-something-year-old Paul tube amp when we were looking for more grit and some combo organ didn’t quite cut it. Most of the time you don’t even want to hear what an acoustic guitar sounds like going into an electric guitar amplifier. It’s not too pretty. But this guitar has some kind of bizarre magic going on, and it sounds so chunky and delicious you probably wouldn’t believe it was an acoustic guitar if you heard the results. It turned out to be exactly what the song needed, gluing the whole thing together in a nice way.

All told, we ended up maxing out all sixteen of the available tracks on the mixer, which isn’t something I’ve done since “Amphetamine Rush” on OH YOU THIS more than six years ago. Mixing it was an interesting challenge, trying to find space for every voice and instrument. You want the electric guitars to be big and powerful without drowning everything else out. You don’t want all those acoustic guitars to get lost in the shuffle. You might have to move the Wurlitzer around a bit mid-song when things start to get busy so it doesn’t end up completely buried by everything else. It’s fun to have to think a bit more about all of this, not being able to just fall into my usual mixing comfort zone where certain things have specific places to go and that’s the end of it. One of Beyonce’s backup dancers would surely approve. Maybe I can get her to defect and become my backup dancer instead.

The point is, fun was had, and not a single trick-or-treater interrupted. Who could ask for anything more?


  1. I had the great pleasure to listen to the finished song today and I have to say it is an amazing piece of work, the vocals are so powerful and the instruments are superb. I love the structure of the song.

    Congrats Travis and Johnny – keep working together as you make great songs look easy!!!

  2. It will in fact undress itself. Johnny and I are going to continue recording some of my stuff and it will hopefully be available in the new year.

    And also…I both sniff AND shoot catnip…I find the high more complete

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