In late December of 2019 Colin Jenkins, an independent avant-garde prog artist approached me to do a new EP. Although I was steeped in wedding and honeymoon planning, and all the stress therein, I gladly accepted. Colin and I have worked together a lot and he’s an amazing writer! He sent me the charts, the MIDI mockups, and the ProTools sessions and I began preparing. As is my custom, I tend to make my own charts whenever I’m playing as well as engineering but the festivities got away from me and it sat in my desk with about half of the A section on the first song charted. The big day came and my new wife and I spent 10 days living it up in Italy. It was off-season and a truly amazing experience. We returned home, and returned to normal life. I went back to Berklee to finish my final semester and promptly got swamped with catch-up work and scheduling rehearsals with my band for my Senior Recital.
It was, though we didn’t know it, the Before Time. We could go outside, we ate at restaurants and thought masks were only to fight facial recognition and air pollution. It was a simpler time. A better time.
Now, should you be hiking or camping and encounter a bear it is advisable to make yourself as big and loud as possible (provided it’s not a polar bear or a Kodiak bear). Never under any circumstances should you turn your back on it. Like… seriously. Never. Ever. That’s how you get attacked and die. The same advice goes for 12-minute prog songs in 15/8.
In my own defense, I wasn’t a total nincompoop, I did manage to find the time to learn the grooves to each section in turn for one of the songs but I was NOT ready to play it all the way through without stopping nor was I in any kind of shape to play both songs on the same session. Thankfully we decided to do one song per session to get the best possible results so the latter problem wasn’t a game changer but I will say; when Colin begins asking for recording dates and I proceed to quietly freak the hell out.
Sparing the details, we got the songs done but I was much happier with the second one than the first. I feel like I wasn’t as tight in all the continuous takes as I could’ve been. Even though compiling and editing are generally standard practice in the industry these days, I’ve grown accustomed to not having to do that too much on my own performances and that was very necessary in some parts. I felt like I had let down both Colin and myself. I even offered to re-track whatever sections he wasn’t happy with on the first song at the end of the session but he said it wouldn’t be a problem.
After that experience I resolved that the next session would be different. Instead of just making myself big and loud to the proverbial bear, I was going to buy myself some bear mace and something as close to an elephant gun as I could find. I was going to kick ASS on the next session and now that I had the time to get it all done I threw myself into it. That wasn’t to say Berklee work didn’t get procrastinated on a bit but the result was amazing!
Long story short, set yourself realistic goals and
By the way, in case anyone was wondering here was the setup sheet for the session:
Gobo behind the drums
Kick – Audix D6
Snare – Sennheiser MD421
Rack tom – Sennheiser MD421
Floor tom 1 – Audix D4
Floor Tom 2 – Audix D4
Overheads – Sure SM81 Spaced Pair
Crush – SM57 on the floor of the adjacent bathroom (only on Nuclear Winter)
Room – Mid Side Austin ribbon mic with Neumann TLM 102
Mapex Saturn Drums
Pearl Jimmy DeGrasso Signature Snare
Paiste Cymbals, 2002, Signature, and Twenty Masters