Less than a month after we recorded the stripped-down acoustic CD that served as the first proper Soul Crossing album, Christian wanted to record something that captured the sound of his full band. He came over to the house the day after Valentine’s Day and laid down guitar and vocals for a good ten songs or more. The plan was to overdub the rest of the band the next day.
I brought my gear over to his place and we gave it a go. It didn’t work out. Christian’s brother kept losing the beat when he tried to overdub his drum parts. We didn’t get one useful take the whole day.
The next day, Christian came back over to my place and took another shot at recording the guitar/vocal parts, this time using a click track to make sure the rhythm was steady all the way through.
The day after that, I brought my gear back over to his place, and we took another stab at recording the overdubs. The same thing happened again. Ryan kept losing the beat.
He was a good drummer. Keeping time wasn’t usually an issue for him. But he beat the hell out of those drums, and I think that was the trouble right there. His playing was so loud, he couldn’t hear the music well enough in his headphones to follow its rhythmic pulse no matter how much I turned it up.
After giving up on all of that, an impromptu jam session happened, with me sitting in on keys. We recorded three songs live off the floor. Those were the only successful recordings to come out of the whole thing. Ryan played bongos, cowbell, and anything else that was kicking around.
I gotta say, I think I acquitted myself pretty well for someone who’d never played any of these songs before and didn’t have a chance to try and learn any of them before hitting the record button. I’ve always liked how you can hear Christian smile through his singing when I switch from piano to organ in the middle of So Much to Show.
Sweet Dreams is the clear highlight, taking on a pretty different feeling from any of the other recordings we made of the song. Brian’s bass line is good funky stuff, and my organ riffing almost gives things a light bossa-pop feel. There’s some unfortunate feedback because of all the live mics (there was no way to monitor on headphones with the amount of people we had playing at the same time), but the buildup at the end is pretty fun, with me and Anna getting into some duelling organ-and-violin business.
Only one of the things we tried recording piecemeal survives. I guess I thought there was no sense in mixing most those songs or backing them up when they consisted of little more than vocals, acoustic guitar, and drums that drifted in and out of time. The one non-jam session song that was preserved is About Face. Christian’s guitar and Ryan’s drums are there, though the drums are two different takes, with what remains of an earlier take picking up the slack after the second one we recorded on top of it breaks down. Aside from Anna’s vocal track, the rest of the band never added their parts. I recorded some rough bass and electric piano of my own to fill in the gaps.
The end result isn’t really album material. I think it’s kind of interesting, though. Gives you a brief look at what we were trying to do here, and what we finally accomplished a few months down the road.
This was only my second time ever recording a real drum set. I managed to get a surprisingly good sound with not very much equipment. It was pretty much the only time I ever mic’d the bottom of a snare drum instead of the top. I’ve never liked that sound any other time I’ve tried it, but it worked well here.
There’s also a ridiculous hidden track I added myself that sounds a little bit like chipmunk speed punk and has nothing to do with any of the other songs. Sometimes it’s just fun to do goofy things like that.