In June of 2012, I recorded for the first tracks of acoustic guitar for a new album. From then on, to the end of the year, very little progress was made. Derek and I barely managed to record his drum parts before he skipped town for Portland. Everything imaginable got in the way. Tours, school, work, lacking a proper space, equipment malfunctions, lacking the proper equipment to begin with…
But today, in early February, that is no longer the case. The songs are no longer the skeletons that sat in the deep, dark corners of my hard drive for many months. There is a heartbeat, and soon they will even have a face. That was an odd metaphor but… the songs are actually beginning to sound like songs.
In 2011, I recorded my first full-length album. Things are different nowadays. While I’m happy with what that album has done for me, I have a lot more in store for this one. I decided that I wasn’t going to put a deadline on its completion, but instead work as diligently as possible, and not rush it. Also, these songs will be my most involved work to date.
However, there is a lot that hasn’t changed. I’m back in Longwood to get this thing done, the same house where the first one was recorded. It’s where a lot of the songs were written. There is a certain magic about this house for me. Some pieces of the songs were recorded in other various rooms around Central Florida, but this house has something that just puts me at ease. I feel comfortable recording here, unlike anywhere else. It’s home for me, and I couldn’t imagine a better place to work. In 2011, there were three other people here, and the room that I was forced to record in was pretty much my only option. Today, I am the sole resident of the house. I’ve recorded different instruments for this album in almost every room of the house, trying various techniques. One “bedroom”, now almost completely empty, by all means, should sound better. I set up my soundproofing and recording equipment in there, planning to make that my home base for the completion of the project, which at this point is mostly vocals. I sat down in there late one evening, planning on a recording session that would go early into the morning. But something didn’t feel right. I was as uncomfortable as I could be in my comfortable house. Nothing sounded right. I set everything down and walked across the house to the room where I recorded in 2011. I stood there for a while, reminiscing on the countless hours I spent recording in there, how at ease I felt, how happy I was and still am with that sound. How do I recreate that, I thought? The answer, seemingly obvious now, was to set up in that same room again. I began to scout the room out, and found that the very same tacks that I used to hang a blanket from the wall for soundproofing were still sitting in the wall. They had sat there for over a year and a half, untouched. I rummaged through closets to find that same blanket, and hung it back up. The rest of my gear followed. Finally, things were starting to feel right again.
In November or so of 2011, I wrote a song called Where We Fell. It’s one of the most personal songs I’ve ever written, and writing it was extremely hard to do. As cliche as it sounds for me to say as a songwriter, I wrote it at a very difficult point in my life. I truly was lost as an individual. But I believe that writing it was a turning point for me, and helped me get back on the right track; a “no going back” if you will. To date, I’ve never played that song live. Instead, it’s been playing in my head almost every day in order to prepare to record it. As soon as I finished writing it, I knew that I had to have an upright bass playing on it. I could hear the part to myself so clearly. Since I haven’t played it live, I’ve never bothered to teach it to Kyle. Getting around to that was a little strange. We didn’t take a whole lot of time going through it, and just decided to start trying to record it, and talk things out as we went. I had planned for a long evening, as learning a new song and going straight to recording it can be extremely difficult. But instead, on only the third time going through it, Kyle laid down a beautiful take. I listened on in shock. It was almost like he could read my mind, and then some. I barely even began to describe what I wanted him to play, and he played it. To hear something that had lived in my head for over a year, play back to me on my computer, was mesmerizing. Kyle is truly one of the most talented musicians that I know, he never ceases to amaze me. I’m so lucky to have him as my main constituent, and I never thought I’d see the day that I’d be so musically involved with my own brother. Five songs down on the bass, two more to go.
Although I’m keeping myself busy with other things too, these next few weeks will revolve around recording. It will involve later nights, and earlier mornings. Friends will continue to come to record and leave a few hours later; it might even look like I’m running some sort of illicit operation from my house, to someone on the outside. But come hell, high water, or search warrant, this project will get completed. And I can assure you that it will end up being the best effort that I, or rather, we, have in us.