Studio

Music in Metal Tales

January 29th, 2017

My metal rendition of the music from Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights is now included in a video game! The game, Metal Tales: Fury of the Guitar Gods, is an arcade-style animated game from Spanish based Nuberu Games. You can view some game play footage and read more about the project at their official site, http://metaltales.com/.

And check out my name in the credits in this review video!

{ELSE} Who Will Cry Re-Release

January 10th, 2017

Another chapter in the project that never ends. This, I can say, is really truly the final chapter though. My primary project, {ELSE}, released a remixed and remastered version of our debut album, Who Will Cry, today.

I started recording this album in December of 2013. My guitar parts and bass were done in a few weekends, and then the long waiting game started. The first initial roadblock was that our singer, Juan, decided to leave the band right at that time. This meant that for the first part of 2014 we had to split time between auditioning new vocalists and recording.

We found our current singer, Shane, and he had learned the material by the summer of 2014. I also moved into my house during that time, and made the switch to Mac with a new laptop. I spent a few weekends transferring all of the old files to the new laptop and we finally started the process again.

After a few gigs we felt that Shane was comfortable enough to record, so we laid down vocals in the fall of 2014.

Meanwhile, our drummer, Joe, built himself a studio to record drums, but that isn’t cheap or easy so he wasn’t done with drum tracks until January of 2015.

Only the next weekend or so we finally got around to remaining guitar tracks and I went through about a month of intense mixing and editing in February of 2015. Because this was my first true album, I had a lot of lessons to learn along the way. The drums were very, very difficult and our lack of a proper pop-filter and screen on vocals meant that I had a lot of consonants to scrub and compress. The timeline of everything was so spread out that as I learned a new technique I would go back and apply it to some of the tracks that were already a few years old.

Finally, on March 20, 2015, we had our CD release party! It was done!

Haha, no, not at all. I was immediately unhappy with a lot of the album and in June 2015 sent it off for a remastering and a new digital distribution. The remaster was a bit better, but I still had problems with the overall sound and some of the individual performances.

Therefore, I opened up all of the tracks again and tackled problems. In the second half of 2015 I started remixing just a few songs. I focused on making a rounder, less tinny sound. Over the years, we have backed the treble and presence of our guitars down, so that needed to be reflected. I did the same on the FX channels and the result was that without so much very high-end clutter, all of the instruments were clearer and louder. I also worked on the drums, particularly the lower end and added more oomph the bass drum and a heck of a lot to the toms. I think the new tom sound is actually the most improved part of the album!

Into the winter of 2016, I applied those edits to the entire album. That sat for quite a while, and finally in December we re-recorded a few vocal parts to get rid of lyrics we were frankly sort of embarrassed by. I then ran everything through my own remastering and submitted for re-release through CD Baby.

The very last delay was a wonderful Hawaii vacation into the 2017 New Year, but upon return, the final proof was ready for review. I did actually find an error in it that needed to be fixed! So, one final fix, click that “Approve” button and finally, it is done.

Now, the hilarious thing is, I still have some problems with this version. I messed up a noise gate on a tom in one song and you can hear it opening and closing, adding a weird accent to some cymbal hits. I also introduced a small pop in slicing a vocal take. I also kept finding other new problems, but almost 100% of the time I would listen back and find them in the older versions, meaning that after two years and hundreds of listens I was hearing these things for the first time. I decided to just leave all of those. I also think the guitars are still not where they could be, but I really need to stop nit-picking and move on.

The new demos I’ve been recording in the last few years all sound as good, if not better than the album, and all of the learning I did working on the album is definitely a contributing factor. I think that our next album, which we hope to record later this year, will be a breeze compared to this. I don’t think I’ll need another two years of learning about compressors, adaptive limiters, noise gates, flex tempo and pitch correctors. I’ll just start with the current settings! We’ve all also improved at our individual crafts – Shane sings stronger and more in tune, Nate and I have greatly improved our guitar tone, Jon and Joe play with more consistency – so I am hopeful there will be little editing this time around.

With Who Will Cry, although I’ve said it before, I am finally done.

A Life Elided Releases “Lear”

January 30th, 2016

ALE-album-artAbout a decade in the making, my long-term side project, A Life Elided, has released an official album. The 12-song debut, Lear, is the best of the 25+ songs written and recorded in between other projects since 2005. Some of the songs are so old that I no longer have the original recording files, which meant that wrapping up the release mostly consisted of adding parts as I could and remastering work. The age of some of the songs shows, but it felt great to finally put a bow on all of the effort in an official way!

{ELSE} Releases “Who WIll Cry”

March 20th, 2015

11034419_581041585366316_1258135275416596239_oAfter a ton of hard work which began all the way back in December of 2013, {ELSE} is releasing our debut album! It’s 8 songs long but still clocks in at 40 minutes and took probably hundreds of hours to finish. I laid down most of my guitar parts and recorded our bassist in December of 2013, and then things sort of stalled as our original singer quit and we hunted for a new one. During that hunt, I ended up recording ALL of the remaining guitar parts and added FX and mixed and mixed and re-mixed and mixed some more. Finally, in September of 2014 we had a new singer and new vocal parts so we recorded those. In February of this year, guitar tracks from our other guitarist and drums were finally added. I ended up going back and removing some of my guitar parts to add Nate’s in, and mixed drums for the first time in my life. There were TONS of mistakes and lessons learned along the way, including one frantic call to the CD pressing company to throw out a disc which had an error on it. We’re holding a CD release party tonight and I don’t think I’ve been more excited for many other things in my life, except maybe my wedding and the 1-year anniversary trip to Europe I have planned with my lovely wife!

Whiskey Doubles Releases Nightcap

February 26th, 2015

My folkestra (folk orchestra) band, Whiskey Doubles,  just released our second E.P. The 9-song Nightcap shows off the matured natured of the band as all of the songs were written specifically for this quartet. Our previous album, Honey Creek EP, by contrast, featured a few songs originally written for the now-defunct Of the North. Another change in this CD is that all parts were recorded simultaneously in a makeshift studio, as opposed to the individual track approach of our previous recording. I think we achieved a much improved sound through both the new songwriting and recording approaches, and couldn’t be more proud of the album.

Nightcap-for-CD-BabyLike Honey Creek EP,  Nightcap features a variety of instrumentation. Because the tunes were recorded live, I do not do as much instrument doubling as have done before, but still alternate between cello, various percussion (spoons, snare, open snare, bass drum) and vocals. Other instruments in the recording include our signature folkestra blend of flute and clarinet, harmonium, guitar, banjolele, baritone ukulele, and the new addition of harmonica.

Nightcap is available on iTunes, can be streamed on Spotify, and we will have physical copies to sell at all of our shows!

Recording Pay the Devil

February 9th, 2015

Just two weeks after recording with Whiskey Doubles, and in between performing and writing new songs with {ELSE}, I took a Sunday to record my old chums, Pay the Devil. I used the same kind of set up that we used for Whiskey Doubles, running 4 Tascam instrument mics, a large diaphragm condenser for main vocals, and a few additional dynamic Shure SM58s for backup vocals and percussion. With a large semi-circle layout, we were able to achieve pretty clean and separated tracks and with some light mixing and processing, and the end result was fantastic!

The album, tentatively titled “North Avenue Free For All”, will contain about 19 songs and should be available on Spotify, iTunes, and of course in person in a few weeks!

Whiskey Doubles Christmas Music

December 14th, 2014

IMG_2620Whiskey Doubles recorded two holiday tunes yesterday, all in a span of about 45 minutes. We used my new Focusrite 18i20 to record 6 simultaneous channels in my living room. I spent about an hour mixing each song, designed a quick cover photo for it, and we published less than 24 hours after recording! This is definitely how we’re recording our next effort.

Sofar Sounds

July 15th, 2014

Last Friday I had the privilege of being a part of Milwaukee’s first installment of Sofar Sounds, a series of guerrilla living-room concerts held in just about every major city you an think of. The series began in London and is now in cites all over the US and Europe. Due to our experience shooting Dig Sessions, Ivan and I were brought on to record the bands. 4 Wisconsin bands played to a packed crowd in an East Side flat and what proved to be a truly incredible evening. It even wrapped up early enough for me to finally catch my first The Fatty Acids show! I know there are more Sofar shows on the way already and I’m greatly looking forward to them even though, by definition of the series, I have no idea who is playing!