The Making of an EP (Trials and tribulations of a wannabe musician, his fiancee and their Merry Band of Miscreants… The Typical Johnsons)
What you are about to read is kind of a diary. It is a studio that will be kept during the making of “The Sailor & The Siren” the new EP by Jeremy & Lynne , or if you prefer them as a whole band “JL & The Typical Johnsons” Enjoy! (Honestly I’ll be surprised if anyone reads this!!! )
DAY 2: Mis-communication and Missteps, the musician way… (Wednesday Feb 17th)
The question is this… Is a step laterally still progress? For our second day in the studio we moved less forward than side to side, but maybe thats the way it was supposed to be...
It was a typically cold wet Ohio evening in February and going inside couldn’t have been a better option. (It should be noted, that every day in February in Ohio is kind of miserable. If your from Ohio you know this, and if your not it deserves talking about. Ohio, and to a greater or lesser extent the states surrounding Ohio suffer from a form of weather schizophrenia where it could be -4 deg one day and 50 the next (I am only slightly exaggerating…) It’s the worst time of year in this part of the country. ) Tonight we were supposed to be entering the ICB studio for two very distinct reasons. The first and primary reason was to lay down an actual drum track for the first three songs. Before we could do that though, Justin had requested that our guitarist [Andy Brogan] add a scratch demo to my previously completed click tracks because he felt that hearing the solos and fills changed the way he played each song, and who was I to disagree. Our manager Aj took it for task and he scheduled our second session for 6pm on this miserable Wednesday in Ohio. All of that had changed though with a phone call from Aj literally minutes before we were due to show up and start loading in. The main engineer for the night had to take other work for one of the other jobs he had and couldn’t attend the session.
In a flurry of phone calls I was able to reach Justin, who had about an hour one way drive and I apologized but was able to turn him around half way to the studio. He agreed, that “he would rather do it once right, than do it multiple times and have it not be right or “tracked” the proper way. Andy was pulling in right as I hung up with Justin however, so everyone agreed that Aj (who isn’t a bad studio engineer in his own right) would run a quick session to get Andy’s scratch track onto the three tracks I had recorded in the previous week. *Remember when I explained how the scratch track was like the foundation, and everything stacked like blocks on top of it?*
Needless to say, everyone was disheartened and not in high spirits as we realized we also had a very limited amount of time to get the recording done, because without the main engineer there we were not allowed to just be in the building by ourselves.
So be it then… lets go… And so we went…
But let’s talk about the time in between for a minute… In between these two session we had performed twice during the past weekend. Two shows in two nights had Lynne and myself feeling a little haggard. Lynne in addition to being one of, if not, the, most important person in my life, was also the person who I formed JL&TTJ with a few years prior. She still worked as a fitness instructor at two local gyms in our home town. Justin has a full time job as a safety supervisor and welder and Andy worked third shift as a welder in a local factory as well. Getting everyone on the same time schedule was no small feat our manager Aj (himself a full time student and Bob Evans line cook) worked hard at herding all of the cats together.
The shows we had played the previous weekend were at The Moeller Brew Barn, a local brewery, and Ya’ll’s country club in Covington Ohio, both were interesting and fun if not successful.
Moeller Brew Barn is a fairly new establishment to the rural Western Ohio landscape. Owned by Nick Moeller a great guy and fun guy to talk too, he had made it his mission to bring quality beer to a population that held dear to it’s long sanding tradition of drinking predominantly shitty mass produced crap. (Insert favorite same tasting bullshit right here)
I myself didn’t realize that there was a whole cornucopia of GOOD tasting beer until I ended up stationed in California during my first year in the Navy in 1993. Since that point I have become a notorious beer snob and never let up on the poor people who were around me, especially when I would come home on leave to Ohio and eventually live here again. Nick at Moeller was fighting the good fight, and I appreciated it, as did many others and the crowd that previous Friday was testament to that. We broke the band down to Lynne myself and Andy, to keep the volume level at a conversational level. The people seemed to appreciate it and AJ came out to run sound and even video tape us a little which was a new experience. The crowd clapped, drank and talked but stayed until the last song. If you haven’t spent any time in a band or playing music for people in a social situation, sometimes it goes like this… You play your ass off and put the same level of emotion into it as you would if you were performing at the Grammy’s and you don’t even dent the crowd who is there to have a good time, but mostly wants background music. Moeller was no exception that night, and most everyone just sat and talked and generally had a good time. It gave a chance to relax and have a good time playing through a three hour set of originals and covers and drink some pretty fine beer.
Saturday however was a beast of a different nature. Ya’ll’s Country Club [YCC] in Covington Ohio is the definition of a “dive bar” with two very cool owners. The clientele is usually regulars and they like to drink. YCC has full bands all the time and is a pretty decent stage and we did pretty well. Loud and proud with our sound guy bringing enough gear as our bass player put it, “to fully run a Coachella Stage.
By the end of the night though we had fully engaged to 20 or so bar patrons and put on a good enough show that I was wiped out. (Images from Sat)
So After a couple days of rest though we were all ready to get back to it and the studio beckoned, however this was not the session we had expected. Now instead of getting a full, final drum track recorded and down we were lucky to get a scratch lead/rhythm track down for Andy and spent most of the hour and a half we were there contacting people we knew to find out about how much studio time cost at other local studios. Aj, myself and Lynne talked straight through the session while Andy recorded in another room. We asked ourselves questions like:
What kind of price are we willing to pay for studio time
Is it more important for us to have consistency in the sound of the overall album, can we record at multiple studios?
Although the engineer had a valid reason to be gone tonight, it wasn’t fair to the band to be pulling them an hour in one direction to call them off halfway to the studio, what can we do to prevent this from happening again.
Do we need to increase our overall budget? Can we?…
So with all of this in mind, we exited the studio post haste, continuing our conversation on the way home. When we got home we listened to the bounced tracks from the session and even though they were basically still just a reference track, with the added guitars on top of my acoustic and vocal, they sounded awesome.
I can’t explain the feeling of seeing these songs come together correctly. The shape of the song literally changes with every added layer, and even though these weren’t even final takes both Lynne and I smiled because the shadow of what they could be started to become clear. As the night wound down, we resolved to go in whatever direction this leads and see it to the end, no matter how long it took, or where we had to go to record.