Thursday, September 4, 2008
Studio Journal. - Los Angeles, CA.
August 20th - 12:47AM.
I'm going into the studio tomorrow at 10AM. I'm not sure what we'll do on our first day of recording, but I'm excited. Heather and I are thinking about moving here to Los Angeles. We plan on looking for prospective places while we are here in town.
August 21st - 2:14AM.
Recording, day one. We accomplished a lot today, tracking most everything for "100 Years Of War." I'd like to still add some gang vocals and maybe some other minor percussion, but we have the basics. It's good to see Billy. I enjoy working with him. I've been looking forward to this project all summer long.
Before we left for the night we recorded a rough version of a song I wrote a couple days ago "Cowards Sing At Night." It was the first time I've actually ever sung the song out loud in my full voice. I wanted to do the rough recording for Billy and Butch to hear, to see if they thought it was good enough to record for the EP. I like the song, the melody, but lyrically; I'm apprehensive. I just want to be certain that I stand behind what I wrote. I don't know John McCain. Chances are I''l never meet him. I just know what I've read about him, what I hear about him, the impression he makes, through the media and the politics he preaches. McCain was a POW during Vietnam. People respect his service record, and it's been brought up continually in his bid for the presidency. I disagree with the fundamentals of his platform, I disagree with what he represents. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe that people should be free to marry whomever they want to marry, regardless of gender. I think offshore drilling offers no solution to the country's energy crisis. I think healthcare is a right not a privilege. I think that John McCain will not only prolong our occupation of Iraq (indefinitely?) but also lead us, guns blazing, into more conflict. I think John McCain has never stopped fighting the Vietnam War.
Sometimes I look down at my arms or legs and imagine myself an amputee.
August 22nd - 12:03AM.
Recording, day two. Jerry Finn passed away today. Butch came in to the studio and seemed pretty broken up about it. They were friends. I didn't really know what to say so I said nothing.
I met Jerry once, towards the end of when we were recording "New Wave". Jerry was in the studio above us finishing up the last Tiger Army record. Butch and I went up there to see if we could borrow an amp. We brought up some wine in exchange, an offering. We didn't know that Nick 13 was straight edge, Jerry declined. They still let us borrow the amp. My condolences to Jerry's family and friends.
August 23rd - 12:44AM.
Recording, day three. I feel a little under the weather, like I might be getting sick. My body aches, I'm tired. I'm not sure when my next day off is, I can't remember when my last one was. Tropical Storm Fay has been dumping rain on Florida for the past three days now. I called my mom earlier to check in and make sure everything was okay. I text messaged with James and asked him how the weather was in Gainesville. I'm worried that our storage space might flood. I wish I'd put the LP boxes up off the ground. We recorded "Conceptual Paths" today. We moved a little slower than previous days, it was a little more laborious song. We spent a lot of time trying out different effects for the drums and vocals. Heather asked me tonight if I was enjoying recording alone. Yes, I am. I feel conflicted as to whether I should release these songs under the name Against Me! as planned, under a new name, or under my given name. I've never liked my name.
August 24th - 1:08AM.
Recording, day four. While I could have happily slept for another couple of hours I felt much better this morning. We worked on "Anna Is A Stool Pigeon" today, mapping out the tempos. Butch came in a little after noon with Bo. It's amazing to see how much she's grown, how much she's talking! We gave Butch the tempo map for the song, he's going to try and work out a drumbeat for it. After lunch we recorded "I Can't See You, But I Know You're There" and "Cowards Sing At Night". We took a real straightforward approach to the songs, just acoustic guitar on "I Can't See You..." and just an electric (a Jazzmaster played through an old Silvertone) on "Cowards...".
There are ants in my hotel room. They crawl all over my computer as I work through emails. They crawl all over the pages of my notebook as I write. They Crawl all over Heather and I while we sleep. They fill me with guilt as I crush them under my fingers.
August 25th - 12:02AM.
Recording, day five. We hit our first roadblock today. After making progress on the drum part for "Random Hearts", and stumbling by chance into a cool tone with a Fender Baritone played through a Matchless head, we were at a loss as to what we should do for the actual guitar part. It didn't help that we decided, today being Sunday and all, we would make two separate trips to the coffee shop up the street. We got completely jacked on caffeine. It wasn't pretty. I felt like I was saying everything way too loud. I've been working on the song since I got back here to the hotel. I've also been drinking wine in the hopes that I will eventually be able to fall asleep. We're starting late tomorrow, 1PM. This means I get to sleep in. Despite the frustration today I'm trying to keep all the progress we've made thus far in perspective.
I'm still awake. Watched "Jumper" starring Hayden Christensen and Samuel L. Jackson. Not a great movie at all, but Hayden's performance was Oscar worthy compared to his stilted delivery in the two Star Wars movies he made.
So here I am, 5th floor of the Sheraton, room 507, Los Angeles, California. Andrew and James are back in Gainesville. Warren is in Chicago. Heather asked me tonight if I was serious about moving out here. I said it all depended on the specifics. The cost of living is a lot higher in Los Angeles, CA than in Gainesville, FL. It would also mean that I would no longer live in the same city as the rest of my band. What would happen? How would this affect us? We are going to be recording our next full length out here at some point next year, which would mean we'd be living in Los Angeles for a couple months anyways. We can either find a house to rent somewhere in Florida (other than Gainesville), commute to practice and then live a hotel for a couple months while we're out here in Los Angeles recording. Or, we can get a house here in Los Angeles and I can just travel back to Florida, live in a hotel while writing for the record, then be at home the whole time we are recording. I told Heather that I wasn't sure what we should do, that I'm hoping the answer will reveal itself to me soon.
August 26th - 1:38AM.
Recording, day six. We finished the essential for 3 songs today. "Random Hearts", "Anna", and "Harsh Realms." I was up until will past 4AM last night wrestling with the guitar part for "Random Hearts". I was glad that it worked out. We're not recording tomorrow. I'm going to shoot some videos around town with this guy Jason Thrasher. It's going to be live performances, out in public places. I want to do one for every song on the EP. I met Jason for the first time last night, he came over here to the Sheraton and we had drinks in the lobby. Jason is from Athens, Georgia. He seems like a cool guy.
August 28th - 1:01AM.
Recording, day seven. I'm tired, mentally tired. I've begun mapping out potential song sequences in my head. I'm pretty sure I want to leave off "I Can't See You, But I Know You're There" from the EP. I don't think it fits lyrically or musically. Making the videos went great yesterday, had a lot of fun. It was pretty awesome standing on a rooftop in downtown Los Angeles, singing at the top of my lungs to the endlessly expanding city below, as the sun slowly set. As we sat huddled in the dark watching the playback on the camera, laughing, talking, drinking beers, I felt like I was 19 again. Life was dangerous and exciting. All ideas were possible and should be followed with passion. The future was unpredictable. I want to always feel that way.
August 28th - 7:58PM.
Recording, day eight. The right side of my mouth is throbbing. The pain feels like it's coming from around my crown. Before my dentist died he told me that I needed to have it replaced, that it wasn't sealed properly and that food could get stuck in it, possibly causing infection. I wish I had dental insurance.
Craig Aaronson is coming by the studio with Holly Adams, our new production manager, tomorrow at 11:30. We have been left completely alone by the label up until this point, which I have not minded at all. I think their expectations are modes, if not low. We finished early tonight and Billy gave me a ride back to the hotel. I've really enjoyed hanging out with Billy. We've had a relaxed schedule while recording. Show up around 11, go get coffee, record for a couple hours, go get lunch, record for a couple hours, go get more coffee. Billy is a caffeine addict like me.
We recorded a cover of The Replacements song "Here Comes A Regular" today for the 50th anniversary comp that Warner is putting out. As a band we've covered the Replacements before, we recorded a cover of "Bastards Of Young" for a tribute comp a couple years ago. I was hesitant at first to cover them again. But, considering the fact that if I didn't cover the 'mats for this comp no one else would have, I thought it was fitting to do.
I've listened to that song a million times before. I never realized just how sad the lyrics were until I sang them today.
"You're like a picture on a fridge that's never stocked with food."
August 29th - 11:24PM.
Recording, day nine. Chuck Ragan came into the studio today, played harp and sang on "Anna Is A Stool Pigeon". He completed the song, I'm grateful to him for taking the time to come down and do it. We're doing backing vocals tomorrow, "gang vocals". I've invited Lex and Lauren who run againstmeforum.com, as well as a couple other people. This guy Danny wrote into the band email account saying he heard from his friend who works at the studio that I was recording here. He said he used to work here and he now regretted that he no longer did, that he would have liked to have gotten the chance to meet me. I asked if he wanted to come down and help out with gang vocals tomorrow. The gang vocals are all that's left to record. We're hoping to have the EP mixed and mastered, everything finished, artwork and all, by the end of next week. I'm going to call the record "Heart Burns".
August 30th - 7:18PM.
Recording, day ten. We finished all tracking today. Lex and Lauren brought their friend Stephanie with them. Danny brough his friend Ricky. Zach who works at the studio helped out as well. Heather came down with Matt and Monica. Butch brought down a bottle of Duckhorn for everyone. Beth and Bo listened from the control room. I wrote the lyrics down on big sheets of paper and taped them up on the control room window. As everyone sang I stood on the couch and did my best to direct the choir through the glass. Thanks everyone for helping out!
Tomorrow is our last day in the studio, it's also Billy's birthday. Heather and I gave him copies of the new Conor Oberst solo album, and Mark Lannegan's "Bubblegum" as a gift. We mixed a couple songs last night after the gang vocals were done.
August 31st - 12:03AM.
Recording, day eleven. Heather was supposed to leave this morning. She was flying to New Orleans to visit her Dad. They began evacuating New Orleans today because of Hurricane Gustav, which it looks like is headed right for the city. The mayor said it was the "Storm Of The Century", he urged everyone to leave, warning whoever stayed behind that it would be the "mistake of their lives", and that they should make sure then have an axe to chop their way through the roof as the waters rise. Heather is now leaving tomorrow for Florida. I leave for Montreal on Monday. I'm sad to leave. I feel like a different person out here, I feel more like myself, more at ease. I feel lighter. Recording for the past 11 days has been a positive and fulfilling experience. It's made all those nights this past year when I've chosen to go back to my hotel room, or back to the bus, and write instead of going out and partying, worth it. I feel energized, excited about making music and writing.