Drum recording was completed at the end of February! I've been busy working on the drum edits in my free time outside of having a lot to do at my day job (I'm a project manager), guitar online lessons every day (building up solo improv skills before I record the lead guitar parts), and having a life for regular things plus a relationship, and cats.
Needless to say, I have a lot on my plate as I keep powering through the recording process, but I'm ready to go and very excited to see what comes out at the end.
I wanted to get inside the creation of this album a bit more as I go through the process, so here's my write up on how the drum recording went:
Most every recording session starts with the equipment load in and set up. We had plenty of time so it was nice to not have to rush. It takes focus, patience, and diligence at this point of the process to make sure the drums are set up comfortably for the drummer to play their best and are finely tuned for the best tones to capture. Also, for carefully setting up the microphones on each part of the drums and adjusting to make sure it's capturing exactly what we want it to. We ended up using 16 microphones total to record the drums.
Once everything is in place, the drummer gets warmed up and the recording engineers get in the control room to start dialing in the sounds and setting the mic levels. I'm working with a new drummer, Brett Walter, that I serendipitously met through a mutual friend and am stoked to have him playing on this album. Brett is a music graduate and an excellent musician. It's been a pleasure to play him as we rehearsed for this recording, and he will be playing with me when I do a live band performance for the release party (spoiler alert).
It takes a bit to get through the setup and dialing in process. It's key to take the time needed here because these decisions and preparations are what will be stamped onto the final recording forever. No pressure.
We worked with my friend Dustin Boyle at The Spaceship studio here in Madison, WI. He's an experienced engineer and an overall audio freak. I've worked with him on a couple recordings with 4AM in the past, and he was excellent to work with on this recording. Working with him, he was very attentive, quick, and intuitive, all excellent qualities for a recording engineer.
Once everything is totally dialed we dove into what's planned to be the first track on the album and worked our way through the other songs in the album order. In total there are 9 songs that have drums on the album. The titles are still in the works, but I'll release those when I'm working on the vocal recording.
Well actually, I think we dove into a couple pizzas first, but hey, we needed fuel for the long haul of tracking.
The actual recording part of this whole process is really fun, however after setup, it's also round two of disciplined attention to detail. We have to listen closely to make sure the mics are all sounding good throughout the whole process for every drum hit (over two full days). We have to work together to get the best performance for the song and make sure they are refined, consistent, accurate, and in the pocket. This takes a very precise ear and critical listening skills to achieve, as well as making sure the performer is comfortable and they have what they need to be able to give their best effort. At this point it's imperative that I give all of my attention to make sure what Brett is playing and how it sounds is what I want to be on the final product of my album.
Overall it's a big group effort to get the best out of a drum recording session. The whole recording process is a blast, but two days of this attention to detail can be draining, although entirely worth it. In the end, it's inspiring to get through the drum recording because it solidifies what I've been hearing in my head up until now, and gives me the base to start working on the final guitar/bass/vocal parts.
Up next is bass recording, meanwhile I'm writing lyrics, more to come soon as I continue through the album!