i was hoping travis might write his take on the recording of outside the factory gates, and he did, right over here on his site. i think it’s very well-written, and essential reading for anyone interested in what the music is about, and what was going on in and around the album while he was writing it and we were recording it. he also says some very nice things about me. those subliminal messages, i tell you! they’re powerful things. first i get people to crave velveeta, and then i get people to say really nice things about me. next up, i’m going to get a scientific team to build me some sort of teleportation device, just because it would be awfully convenient to have that sort of thing around.
but seriously, i’m not kidding when i say travis’ album is one of my favourite things i’ve been a part of. i think it’s some of the best work i’ve done so far on the production/mixing side of things…over the last few albums i’ve made, i’ve been pushing things farther than ever before in terms of master volume, trying to get things as loud as possible without sacrificing the sound quality, and sometimes the sound has ended up suffering a little, though it was definitely a worthwhile experiment. i learned how far i could go without paying for the professional mastering treatment, and i learned how far was too far. i think by the time of CREATIVE NIGHTMARES, i finally found a good balance between making things reasonably loud without compromising the dynamics. with this album, i decided i owed it to the music to just concentrate on trying to make it sound as good as i could, without worrying at all about it not stacking up to how loud everything else is (in the end, time and good ears will reveal that there are no winners in the “loudness war”), and i think i found an even better balance between a healthy overall volume and keeping the dynamics intact, while not letting any ugly clipping sneak in anywhere. i also discovered a new technique for recording harmony vocals that resulted in a huge, earthy sound not quite like anything i had recorded before. it’s not a new technique in the world of recording, but it’s new to me, and i never would have been able to try it (or even thought to attempt it) without travis’ help.
that wouldn’t mean a whole lot if the material wasn’t there, but i think the songs are some of the best i’ve heard come out of the city, and things like “beggars” and “neodepression” are, in my opinion, some of the best songs to come out of anybody, anywhere. it’s refreshing to make music with friends simply for the enjoyment of it, and not because anyone is trying to get anything from anybody. i had kind of lost sight of that after some of the experiences i had as a sideman (a useful education, to be sure), and i owe it to travis for reminding me what a joyous experience it can be to collaborate with someone when your hearts are in the right place (in your socks…duh…) and there’s no bullshit or agenda involved. i’m proud to call him my friend, and proud to be a part of the album. there aren’t many people i think i would work with very well in the “studio”, and i’m so wrapped up in my own music i don’t think i’d have the time or creative energy to record other artists on a regular basis, even if the interest was there and it was something people wanted me to do. but i would work with travis again in a heartbeat, and i hope we do a lot more together in the future, whatever musical form it may take.
on monday we’re both going to sit down for an interview about the album, so that should be interesting. i don’t think i’ve ever experienced the dynamic of any kind of group interview session before. there was that one time, when i was a member of styx and we did that interview for the sears catalogue, but it was never officially printed. my heart was broken. “don’t let it end this way!” i wailed, and dennis deyoung said, “that sounds like a good song. also, you’re fired.”
my sleep is a pretty dire mess right now, which is nothing new, so work on my own album has again slowed down a bit. but i still think i can get it finished by the end of the month. and i think i might print the lyrics with the cd, for a second time. i know that’s pretty daring. still, even if i don’t think the words are particularly interesting to read, i think it’s nice to have them there for whoever wants to read them.
and speaking of friends who make music, the very talented derek harrison has started a blog and resolved to write/produce/perform/record a new song for every week of 2010. that’s something i’ll definitely be keeping an eye on. you can do it, derek! my ears are all buckled in, ready to go.