Sunday, June 30, 2013

It's been a month and I haven't written a thing.

I have excuses, though.  Lots of them.  Some bad, mostly good.

The best excuse is that we went into the studio to record our fifth album, so I've been a bit low on time and inspiration to do anything that involved...well, this.  I was focused, locked in and primal.  NO TIME FOR NOTHING.

I've since loosened up and have moved on to different, pointless-y-er tasks, which is awesome because I hate the pressure of doing stuff that actually counts.  That's not to say that I hate writing and recording music, it's just that the pressure and anxiety mounts, the sleep dwindles and the second-guessing on everything you do becomes a ritual in insanity.  We've since finished the record, and at one point, I must have thought it was great.  Now, of course, I think it sucks donkey-dick.  What can you do?

Seriously, though, I think it's a great record and will absolutely rival anything we've done in the past, becoming the crowning achievement of our careers.  I'm paid to say that.

I was gonna go off onto something else, but why no keep going?  Pull back the curtain on the magical Musical Studio, revealing secrets and tricks and all the movies we watched when we should have been working.  Ideas, rules, guidelines, you name it and I'll reveal it.

How about the song titles?

1. There Is An Evil Inside
2. Mindwarp
3. Loner At Heart
4. Born With A Scorpion’s Touch
5. Danger
6. I Ride Alone
7. Only The Dead Know My Name
8. I Wanna Be A Vigilante
9. At Night I Am The Warmest
10. American Rebel Death Riders
11. Ride With The Living Dead

We've got a fun theme going on with this record, which seems pretty apparent with the song titles -- vampires, murder and motorcycles.  Because moms hate murder and chicks dig motorcycles.

We wanted to round out the record with a full, twelve tracks, but we were short on time and could only finish eleven songs.  I've been whining and complaining that it feels wrong.  Eleven songs?  Only eleven?  It goes above but doesn't hit beyond.  It seems unnatural.  There's an uneasiness about it.  It'll make you sick just think about it.  Are you sick yet?

This is what we do:

We work from nine to five, two weeks straight, setting up, recording and editing.  We occasionally get off track to talk about our favorite scenes from "Indiana Jones," or to look up weird videos on YouTube, but...that's about it.

I will admit, there's a definite "mystique" about recording in a professional studio.  You tell anybody that you're about to "record an album," you'll be greeted with a fair amount of fascination and importance.

It sounds so cool, ya know?  So respectable and noteworthy.  So rock and roll.

Unfortunately, thrills are rare and the glamour is nearly non-existent.  Unless you're U2 or Guns 'n' Roses, you're probably not going to be drinking champagne and eating chocolate covered strawberries while you lay down your vocal tracks.

I generally think people think it's all fun and games in the studio.  It can be fun, yeah, but I think it's mostly weighed down by the quest for an unattainable perfection.  But you can for-fucking-get about perfection.  Unless you already fully understand that whatever you're doing will end up like something else entirely in the end, you better start learnin', my friend.  Some songs that sound great at practice might sound totally different when recorded to tape, or vice versa.  The trick is to expect the unexpected.

Of course, you gotta have fun.  You gotta laugh and joke and pretend that it isn't actually work, and that you are, theoretically, paying a load of money to work.  I think it's all fine and dandy to screw around and have a good time and all, but...

1. Time is Money

You don't fuck around in the studio.  Really, you can, but it's all coming out of your own pocket (I assume) so if it's your prerogative, by all means, U2 the shit out of that studio.  Play video games, experiment with otherworldly sounds and percussion, get totally wasted and puke into the microphone, etc.  I can;t imagine a scenario where'd we'd have such an insurmountable amount of money to chainsaw grand pianos and shoot TVs with pistols.  I know there's a fine line with art, but I dunno.  So much power comes a great responsibility.  Just, like, spend that money on comic books or porcelain Buddha statuettes instead or something.  I know I certainly would.

2. Learn Your Songs

I suppose this can go under the "Time is Money" idea, and in fact, most of everything I say can and will.  There's little to no time to get everything you've ever imagined doing done, unless, of course, you're U2.  They're such a heated topic of debate in the Calabrese Manor.

It helps if you know what you're wanting to do.  Looking back, I totally shit all over my rule.  I forgot to add an "ooo" here and a slick, high-flying solo there.  Lots of gang vocals could have been put in, certain drum fills could have been spicier.  But you expect the unexpected, you forget the past and look into the future and in a few years, have a nervous breakdown over everything you've ever done while trying to fall asleep.

3. Pack a Lunch

It saves time and money.  You can only make so many trips to Subway before you wanna put a gun in your mouth.  And I hate Subway from the start, so there's an extra special troff of hate just bubbling around.

It's not so much the food, the service or the entire aesthetic -- it's the smell.  The raunchy, offensive smell of Subway.  I know what they do, I know what they're up to (bake the bread inside with zero regard for ventilation) so I know that it ain't no accident.  They want that smell roaming around, and by all means, it's an alright smell.  I don't hate the smells specifically, I hate the way that it sticks to my clothes, hair and body.  The instant I step into a Subway, I will smell of Subway for the rest of the day.  I can't even walk by the entrance without expressing caution.  I don't know if it's just me and a particular brand of extra smell-capturing skin, or if everyone has goes through it and I'm the only one who audibly complains in public, but I stand by my convictions.  Same goes for other sandwich shops (Blimpie's, Jimmy John's) sushi restaurants and BBQ spots.  Anything with a smokey and obnoxious grill set to blow smokey and obnoxious stank in my face.

We watched a lot of movies during lunch, too.  Nothing to really add to that, though, except "Killer Nerd" sucked and "Spontaneous Combustion" was fun.

4. Book Enough Time

We booked two weeks straights.  Overall, it might not have been quite enough time, but it's still a whole hell of a lot of hours to burn up.  Personally, I think less is more.  For every Calabrese record in the past, they've all been recorded in two weeks or less.  I think if you were offered more time in the studio, yeah, you could probably do some really cool things and figure out how to play something better, how to sing a note cleaner, etc., but then you'd tend to over think things.  It might end up a bloated, confused mess.  Less time will make you work harder and faster.  A little more rawer, if you will.  That's the theory, anyway.

But, hey, if you've got the time, totally go for it.  Just learn your damn songs.

5. Have a Large Bounty of Coffee on Hand

It keeps the energy up.  It helps hold your attention.  I drank my fair share of the stuff, Lord knows.  I'm still recovering and my blood is starting to return to actual blood.  And I know that Jimmy absolutely burnt the midnight oil on the last few nights, editing and laying down last minute harmonies well into the peak hours of the morning.  Without the help of such caffeinated brew, he probably would have fallen asleep on the console and died.  I'm pretty sure of that.

I figure that's about it.  The new record is done and we're really stoked for you all to hear it!  Which reminds me to remind you that you can expect a new lyric video for our new single tomorrow morning!  It's the ultimate Christmas present from us to you.  It's extra special because it's six months early.  Aren't we just the best?