Catch our first performance at The Branded Saloon. The evening will be hosted by "Go Folk Youself," a great group of folks who put together shows and events all over the city. We'll be sharing the bill with Pepi Ginsberg, Shayfer James, King Owl, and The Tara Lynne Band. 603 Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn, NY. Show starts at 8PM. Hope to see ya!
"Is that out of tune?"
"Yeah...I can fix it if you want..."
The answer comes from Pete Thompson, the engineer for our first album, On Willow Street. His voice is dull and his answer noncommital but still, we can tell he has an opinion. We think it's the same as ours but he's hard to read and our response is hesitant; we're still feeling each other out.
"Nah, let's just leave it how it is," one of us says, "it's fine."
We had just finished a seven hour session and were using our last hour of studio time to listen to a few playbacks- just to be sure that we did actually hit record and get it all on tape. I remember being pleasantly surprised with the overall sound and feel. Especially on the takes from later in the day when exhaustion and delirium were the overriding feelings as we blew through those last few tunes. Things didn't sound perfect. And that was good. Maybe.
From the beginning we had wanted to make a record live in the studio like they did it in the old days. One that not only captured the songs and the sounds, but the energy as well. We wanted Bill Monroe's slightly out of tune mandolin, Robert Johnson's rusty guitar strings, and the loose background sounds of the old Memphis Jug Band recordings. We definitely got our share of those idiosyncracies but were wondering at this point if it was the right choice. Without the aid of carefully crafted overdubs were we interesting enough? Without the slick production we've become used to hearing on the radio were we good enough? Were we, on our own just...enough?
After going home that night and sleeping on it we debated over the next few days as to whether or not we should make any corrections to the "session," as we were calling it..."Overdubbing an extra vocal line could cover up the awkward nervous phrasing in this part." "Punching in and replaying those few rushed notes in the guitar part might make the whole song swing better." "We could always splice those two takes together and while we're at it why not autotune that sour note that makes me cringe?" "Did Skip James listen to his playbacks and think the same things?" Probably not, he was way cooler than us.
Anyway after talking it over and reflecting we decided to keep it all as it was and as the saying goes, "fix it in the mix." Rather than polish things up and hand the songs over on a silver platter we decided to just throw it all out there exactly as we played it. Exactly as we are. With all of our imperfections. A bit too strident here or a bit self-conscious there. Too quick, too slow, too tight, too loose. Whatever the case may be it's all in there.
If this sounds like an apology for something that was rushed or sloppily made, please understand, it is not. It would have been easy enough to make a few edits in Pro Tools to clean up the things that could potentially be more pleasing to the ear. It may even have been easier than living with the little specks that garnish an otherwise well played collection of songs. It was not laziness nor time constraints that dictated the process. It was our active decision to follow through on our original intention to produce a raw live record and stand, bravely, by our performance; to trust that in spite of and maybe even because of our flaws as writers, musicians, and individuals we are indeed enough. Even if we're not as cool as Skip James.
We look forward to completing production and proudly sharing with you our session On Willow Street.
A Note from the studio
Sep 24, 2010