It’s All Timing
It’s All Timing (2011) contains a mix of rock and some adult contemporary à la Mark Knopfler, a huge influence. The more upbeat songs range from radio-friendly 90s punky style (Jimmy Eat World et al.), to Del Amitri and Fastball styled pop.
My wife and I had just moved to a three story row home in West Chester, PA. After settling in I got to work assembling a makeshift studio on the third floor. Remarkably quiet atmosphere on the third floor of a stone row house. There were two small windows facing the street that I would just cover with a couple of throw pillows.
This is the first time I recorded my guitar amp with a mic, I used to just run direct into the mixer. I set up two mics, one just in front of the grille cloth aiming at the cone between the dome and edge of the speaker. Another mic was place about three feet back aimed at the wood floor just in front of the amplifier. Adjusting the pan and mix of this mic arrangement created some great depth which gave the guitar more presence in the finished project.
Virtual Reality was recorded back in the 90s on a borrowed 4-track Tascam Porta One. Holy crap that’s a long time ago. I decided it was good enough, and fun enough to include on this project with some minor tweaking. I added shakers, that’s about it.
Believe it or not I’m tempted to shift back to multi-track analog recording instead of all this digital stuff. There is something magical about recording in that environment. Limitations force creativity.
I set up and mic’d a little 5-piece 80s vintage Slingerland kit and ran it through a mixer with gating on the snare and kick. I didn’t have enough inputs to record the drums and mix in the computer so I had to get as good a mix as I could before recording to the computer in stereo. Many takes and Level/Pan/EQ adjustments later I settled on a good sound and proceeded to record drum parts. Each song began with a simple reference track of vocals and acoustic guitar.
My computer for this project was a MacBook Pro, a laptop, which I don’t recommend for lengthy mixing sessions. I suffered severe muscle tension in my neck witch ultimately resulted in headaches, as well as hearing issues associated with muscles spasms putting pressure on an artery on the side of my neck. The combination of headphone weight plus the prolonged, daily, forward tilt of my head (while looking down at the laptop on the desk) caused my neck muscles to spasm. So, head up, and monitor mounted at an appropriate height and angle.
Health issues aside, the project was recorded and mixed using Logic Pro 8, all instruments are real except for on Virtual Reality which includes sequenced drums, synth and bass. String sounds on Barrel of Beauty, for example, were created with layered guitar using delay and a volume pedal.