2:05 am Wednesday morning and Mike’s retiring for some precious beauty rest (not that he needs it) before his 8 am meeting at APU, while I’m just hitting my stride. Here’s a recap of a very fruitful and enlightening day in the trenches . . .
A very cool thing happened between 4 and 7 today . . . The Dailies took a big step toward becoming less of Chad & Erica plus some sidemen and more like a real band. A few of you have listened to the board mix of Unplug, which at the time we threw it up there felt pretty good. (Because it is in fact pretty good.) Well, just wait until you hear Wake Us. After 2 hours of getting drum tones dialed in, the fellas picked up their instruments chomping at the bit. (I think I even saw a little saliva on the corner of Chad’s mouth.) Right away we could feel some magic brewing. Heads were bobbing, bodies were swaying, ears were synching with fingers, and everyone was playing within each other.
A little peek into our process so far will illustrate exactly how significant this tune was to the entire project. From the very beginning, Erica and Chad both had a strong desire to make this a band record, rather than a bunch of isolated tracks being played simultaneously. If they wanted a snap-on pop record, they could’ve used much better players than us, that’s for sure! To that end, we’ve been tracking the foundational rhythm tracks (the “bed” tracks) at the same time, with all four of us attempting to mesh with the vibe of what the other 3 were playing. On day 1, this led to more than a few instances of someone saying, “Well, that pass was OK for me, how was it for you?”
After the fifth pass of Wake US, we looked at each other and knew we had all hit the sweet spot at the same time. As we were walking into the control room to listen, Chad said, “That tune plays itself.” For the first time all week, we knew we were heading into the control room to celebrate a victory together, not to hear if the guitar part was good enough to keep, or the drum track didn’t weave too much. We knew we had all nailed it to the wall.
It felt good. Real good.
Then we broke for dinner, and started on what we thought would be a “gimme,” since we had taken a little extra time with the drums and wanted to stick to our 2 song/day schedule.
We have a lot to learn.
One thing I’m certainly learning is how beautiful the people involved on the project are. It takes an excellent person to lay aside personal ego enough to accept, request, and give criticism or encouragement with equal grace, all in submission to the common (greater) cause. This band is filled with those types of people.
As a final aside, I noticed something pretty hilarious in this, my first venture into the ARD blogspace. Many folks have encouragement along the lines of, “Enjoy the process.” This is great advice, and the spirit in which it is intended is undoubtedly pure, but I find it almost impossible to adhere to. To be sure, there are certainly moments of celebration and great laughter along the way, but mostly we seem to be oscillating between moments of intense concentration and moments of recovery from that concentration. The four of us each have the role of musician, self-producer, and to a certain extent co-producer of everyone else’s part. Add Executive Producer to Chad and Erica’s resposibilities. This means that we spend 12 hours a day engaged in one of 5 activities, listed in order of difficulty:
1. Playing a part
2. Critiquing that part
3. Evaluating/critiquing the other parts
4. Coming to an agreement on which critique best serves the project
The more we get to step 5, the more we feel like a band.