RECORDING THE NEW ALBUM

From Rick -

I haven't blogged in ages. Not that I did it much before, but I have gotten away from it for far too long.  I created a few different blogs for different types of topics. I haven't touched this 'Rock Star' blog for years.  We'll see how long I can keep this up.

Anyway, here's some thoughts from the mind of Rick... aka Rickles (of late).

Wanted to discuss the latest recording process. This was an entirely new way of recording for me... and well, it was kind of cool and kind of weird to me, and the rest of the guys too I think.

 

First off, we recorded with Industry Pro Anthony 'Rocky' Gallo (of John Legend Platinum Album fame) out at his studio in Brooklyn, NY.

 

The studio is hidden in an unsuspecting warehouse down in the Hasidic district.  I loved the vibe in the neighborhood... the weather was changing to cold, and the whole scene just felt 'black and white' if that makes any sense.  It really made the mood for recording.

 

Inside the studio, beautiful! A top of the line Neve mixing console sits prominently on display.

 

The performance room on the other side of the glass is big, wooden and insulated. no sound in or out...  Purely top quality all the way around from the performance room to the mixing room. Gear galore and a whole slew of toys for the musician minded to drool over.

We set up drums first with Vinnie on one side of the room. Then Santiago and Tommy set up opposite him. Everything mic'd up and we're ready start recording 'scratch tracks.

For those who aren't aware, scratch tracks are really just 'throwaway' guide tracks. We record the songs one time all the way through with all parts including vocals so everyone has a guide to play along to later for the 'real' recording.

So, for example, I stood in the mixing room with Rocky and the mixing console singing my parts over a cheap microphone while the guys played the songs in the performance room.  My guide vocals (shitty guide vocals as they were - didn't matter much) were played for the guys during each part of the recording process.

After tracking the scratch, It was time to record Drums. Vinnie and Santiago went into the room and played through the tunes a couple of times each. Vinnie got the drums down just like that in one day. One or two takes and BAM that was that. True Rock God fashion!

Unbeknownst to us, Santiago's bass parts were also being recorded at the same time. So, the groove of these songs is going to be amazing! Santi and Vinnie just rocking out the tunes! The cool thing is Santi didn't know he was even doing his tracking for the songs yet. He was just playing along with Vinnie. Turns out what he played is fantastic and totally rocks.

So.. here's what was so different for me.  In the past when I've recorded albums with a band, we would lay down drum tracks first. Then Bass and then Guitars. Usually the Bass and Guitars were done IN the console room and not in the performance room. The gear was in the performance room all mic'd up and stuff, but the guys would sit with the Engineer and play the parts over and over through til perfection. We'd be able to talk through the parts and then redo what needed to be done. ...critiquing as we went along.

This time was 'live' really. The Bass and Drums together.

Day 2 was all about Tommy.

Tommy... oh Tommy... I knew Tommy was a great guitar player. Really, from the start a year ago he came in and really brought it.  We've been working through the songs and he really added a great vibe and feel along with his own signature sound and style. However, what he brought to the recording studio was another beast unto itself. It's like he was holding out on us. Normally I like to rehearse over and over and over before going into the studio.  Which we did... But, Tommy surprised us all with 'MORE' than what we rehearsed. He really made the songs even better... He brought driving rhythm tracks and heart pounding leads.  Trust me, when you finally hear the songs you'll be blown away.

On the evening of Day 2 we started tracking vocals.  This was by far the strangest way of tracking for me. Normally I'd run through a song, then go back and work out parts I wanted to attack differently, or fix a mistake. The process is slow going, but makes for the best takes overall.  I'd do a line.. listen back and then do it again.  Not for every line or anything like that... it'd be unnatural.  But, it's the way I've done it for years on every single thing I've ever recorded.

Not this time though - this time, I powered through the entire song. Then again, then again, then again. 3-4 takes of 4 songs that night and that's it.  We'll take what's best and go with it. So, I gave it my all for each take.. not leaving anything in the tank, but being cautious enough to ensure I had more for tomorrow.

Day 3 was basically the same. Guitars to start and Vocals to finish.

It's a weird way of doing things because I didn't get to listen back or hear how I did. No stopping to critique or retake. So, what you're going to get in the end is pure me.

I must say, from what I've heard of the roughs without going in and editing and taking the best tracks... this sounds HUGE.  I'm very happy with the vocals so far. Really!

Still have more vocals to track - leads and also backing/harmony vocals.

Then Mixing and Mastering... etc etc etc.

We'll try to release the singles as they're completed and once we have all the material, a full album.

One of the things I love about these songs so far is the amount of freedom I've had in exploring lyrical content. Each song is it's own theme and can stand on its own. As a band we created a wonderful canvas for me to paint on. Most of the lyrics seemed to write themselves... which is key. Everything feels natural, and as such makes it easy to sing and sing along to. I really think you'll sing along too.. fingers crossed.

That's about it for today.  Thanks for reading...  :)

Cheers,

Rick