Apologies to those of you whole clicked on this link expecting a juicy euphemism regarding my personal life. This is about as literal as it gets.
After a couple of weeks of wrestling with the closet space I had originally set up to record in, we realized it just wasn’t working in the way we’d originally hoped. Because I’m recording everything live (guitar and vocals at the same time), we were having some phasing issues in the small space with the mics so close to each other, and we had other issues with the acoustics that we couldn’t fix without going through and padding/soundproofing the whole space, which isn’t part of the plan right now. Again, the goal for this record is simple, honest, and intimate.
So it's out of the closet, and into the bedroom. The new space gives the recording a different feel, but it’s honest and I like it.
Recording like this has brought me back to basics in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Over the last few days, I’ve performed the song ‘The Garden’ easily 40 times. Yesterday, I finally captured the right take. It still gets hot and sweaty in the room with the AC off and the windows sealed to avoid noise, but it feels like a workout for the body and the heart, and I like the challenge. In addition to the technical, every take has to be done with the same level of intention and feeling, or it doesn’t work.
The last time I did something like this was in high school, with my first band End of August. We made a record in the living room of my parents’ house. There was no multi-tracking - we just played the songs over and over until all of us got a good take together. My dad was sitting there manually adjusting everything on an analog mixer, taking the guitar up a little during the solo and back down again - a carefully orchestrated dance. I remember one of the songs, “Make it Right" took us more than 25 takes in a row before we finally got a good version.
For the last few years, I've recorded with Dan (Diaz) in his studio, where we’d lay down the guitar track first, cutting and pasting pieces that worked and replacing pieces that didn’t. Then we’d move on to the vocals, doing the same thing. It’s an intricate but forgiving way to work (although the feeling still has to be right), and it’s also how most artists do things these days, but I didn’t want to take that luxury this time.
This time, every pop, click, and flub is part of the process, and part of the record. I took an afternoon off from recording earlier this week and spent hours practicing one specific guitar passage with a metronome because I’d kept messing it up on tape and knew we couldn’t make any edits later. I’ve had to be careful not to wear my voice out. It’s all or nothing this way. And because of that, it’s more nerve-wracking, but also more thrilling when things sound and feel right.
“When you do it this way,” Dan says. “It’s all about the performance.”
It has to be. There’s nothing else.