I typically write and record about one song a year. Well, this year it's "Twisted History." This particular song has a long and, you might say twisted, history. The chords and arrangement were written in roughly 1991 with my band "Cheap Thrills," a band that never found a singer we thought was good enough for us. I think the problem was more ego than anything, but it was what it was. About 3 or 4 years ago, I decided to revisit the song. The thought of programming the drums in the tools I had at the time was far too daunting, so I decided to seek salvation in social media. I tracked down the original drummer, Jason Ward, in upstate New York. He was still the same old Jake, still an active drummer, and he had a recording setup on his kit. He was totally into it, so I emailed him a copy of our old rehearsal recording of the song to refresh his memory, and waited.
Jake sent me a stereo mix of his drum tracks month or so later, which I wasn't sure about. He sent about 12 different takes, and I chose the one I wanted and started recording, and then writing the various melodies and counterpoints, making minor arrangement changes.
As I started mixing the rough tracks, I noticed things like the kick drum were not popping. With my limited skills, I tried tweaking the EQ and other stuff to try and bring out the kick without killing everything else. It was a struggle. I finished it as best as I could, and published it - I put it out on the interwebs as "Noodle Theory," even though I hated how it sounded.
Shortly, thereafter, I reached out to the guys at the Home Recording Show to ask some questions about how to fix the mix. They did a small segment on their show, and even played a few bits of the song, and Jon and Ryan offered some great advice for how I could fix the drums.
In the interim, I had (also thanks to the Home Recording Show) switched over to REAPER as my home studio DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Then I bought EZDrummer to better do drums, and doing what they'd recommended would be difficult, as I no longer had Sonar installed, and that's how all the tracks were done for this song (all of my songs up to then). Add in the fact that it was time for the family to relocate from Utah back to Arizona (YAY!), and the whole thing had to sit on the shelf for a while.
A couple months ago, I finally had the time and motivation to get going again. I loaded up Sonar to convert the raw tracks over for use in Reaper, and got going. I copied the drum tracks twice, so there were 3 copies in the DAW now, for three different purposes. One would remain the full kit, one would be for the kick, and the last for the snare drum. On the latter two, I very slowly went through the tracks, isolating and trimming down each track so only the kick or snare existed anymore in the track, and then added triggers to EZDrummer for reinforcement of those drums.
Final mix and master, and a few long listens to see how it did, and it is by far the best mix I've ever done, and I'm really proud of it. On top of that, it was (as you'll hear) a really complex mix, with some parts of the track having as many as 12-14 distinct guitar tracks vying for ear-time.
I genuinely hope you like it. Thanks for reading.
My latest track, "Stinkypotamus," was named by my 4-year-old son, Nick. It's a fairly straightforward and simple instrumental track with a heavy focus on lead guitar playing. Drums were tracked using Guitar Pro 5.2 and imported into the Cakewalk Sonar 8 multitrack session. All other instrumentation recorded direct through my M-Audio Fast Track USB apparatus. Bass was a red First Act. Guitar was my metallic red Ibanez 540 Radius custom (1991), with my usual Fender head and Roland GP-16 effects unit for primary sound. Post included EQ, Lexicon reverb (PSP-42), and a few other things I could remember if I ever wrote anything down.