We are wrapping up the second day of recording and filming a series of instructional videos with Saint Motel saxophonist (and Psychic Temple member), Jeremy Trezona. Last summer, I had the pleasure of producing Jeremy's debut album, Phantoms. We recorded the album inside Cammilleri Hall, which was designed by Yasuhisa Toyota, the acoustician responsible for the famed Walt Disney Concert Hall. Many thanks to my constant visual collaborators White Sitar for making this production a breeze.
Last weekend was a marathon. On Saturday afternoon, we recorded four tracks for Psychic Temple IV with a six piece band. Saturday evening, we tracked vocals and solo fiddle for Philip Glenn's debut album, Outsider. Then on Sunday we brought an 11-piece ensemble into the studio to record my album Music For Bus Stops. The band consisted of two drummers, two bassists, two keyboardists, three horns, and two guitarists: myself and Paul Masvidal. A member of progressive metal band, Death, Paul later co-founded Cynic, a group that moves effortlessly between metal riffs and jazz modes. Paul is both a virtuosic and deeply intuitive musician. Looking across the studio at him as we criss-crossed melodies is an image I will treasure for the rest of my life.
I started production on Psychic Temple IV this weekend. I began writing new songs around the time we mixed down Psychic Temple III with Ronan Chris Murphy. I wanted to start with a mix of old Psychic Temple members (Tabor Allen, John Clement Wood) and new inductees (Danny Frankel, Avi Buffalo). The final member of the ensemble was bassist Max Bennett. Born in 1928, Max was a member of the legendary Wrecking Crew has played with everyone from Ella Fitzgerald and Marvin Gaye to the Beach Boys and Otis Spann.
Max was also the bassist on four of my favorite albums ever recorded, Hot Rats by Frank Zappa and Court and Spark, Hissing of Summer Lawns, and Hejira by Joni Mitchell. There were moments during the session where I could hear phrases from his playing on those records. Needless to say, it was absolutely incredible.
Over the last few months I've had the pleasure of producing albums ranging from progressive jazz (Jeremy Trezona's Phantoms) to orchestral pop (Paulie Pesh's Nine Spirits) to one man band instrumental jazz-rock fusion (Nathaniel Frank's forthcoming LP). The most recent project is Philip Glenn's old-time fiddle music debut, Outsider.
We kept things simple: two rehearsals, a couple of pre-production meetings, and one day in studio with a full band. We knocked out seven of the album's ten songs in a single marathon session. A second date is booked for August that includes vocal overdubs, and the final solo and duo recordings. Everything was tracked live in the room with no headphones. We took full advantage of the Tree Audio Roots Console and engaged subtle compression (especially on double bass and drums) and EQ while tracking. The album features no edits, studio trickery, or artificial reverb. Two tracks were dedicated to room and hall reverbs during recording and we'll use them exclusively for the final mix down. And yes, we used one microphone (an AKG C414 XLS) on the entire drum kit.
Punching up some previously recorded drum tracks with simple floor tom overdubs by Tabor Allen. I used an AKG 451 EB condenser microphone as the drum overhead and one Shure KSM32 placed 40 feet away in the studio hallway. The natural hall reverb has an unmistakable pre-delay and glorious decay. Mix to taste.