Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tunnel vision

Day 2 at Woolly Mammoth Studios in Waltham, Massachusetts, of what will hopefully be the last of the days of mixing this record. Not that I don't enjoy hanging out with Todd and Dave and Jeff, but it's getting a tad bit expensive. OK, we crossed that bridge long ago. Now, it's just piling up. I know there is some resistance within the band of this record coming out in August or September, all of which I full understand. At the same time, I trust Creamer and if he says he wants three months after the record is completely done (mixed, mastered, printed) to put it in the right hands, I'm happy giving him that. We owe it to ourselves to do this the right way. Patience is still king.

Anyhow, yesterday, I spent the first half of the day with Mike, and the latter half with Matt. We finally finished the harmony and mixing of "Nothing From You" (which now may be taking the name "Glory Son" or something along those lines), and Dave Minehan took a stab at some guitar and harmony vocals on "Seek Cover." All in all, we achieved a more minimal vibe on "Seek Cover," which I think suits the song, rather than the original, organ-heavy approach. Both songs certainly rock. We also touched up "Lights On" for its close-up, and got the guitar tone back to its original dirty sound (which just meant reversing the effects of EQing the track). A decent day's work.

Today, we reviewed yesterday's work to make sure we weren't konked out of our gourds, and it all sounded pretty nice, save a few minor changes here and there. Now, we've spent the past few hours giving "Madeline" new life, as the whole track sounded a bit sparse to Todd and I. Oddly enough, this means MORE organ in many parts -- the only organ yours truly has ever played in the studio. I'm fine with it. It's got a cotton candy creepy vibe, like a haunted house. Still to come: minor tweaks to "Golden Fleece" and "Ordinary Girls." With that, we should be ready to master (fingers crossed...).

Anyhow, last we talked, the band was heading down to Brooklyn to play the enormous Music Hall of Williamsburg with our boys, Superdrag, and former local fellas, Aberdeen City. The trip to New York with bizarre. For some reason, we always have the hardest time drawing people to our largest, best-sounding shows in New York. Well, wait, I probably know the reason. This was on Easter/Passover weekend and cost twice as much as our normal shows. Still, it was a good time. We rolled in late, hung in our dressing room for a while, and finally did a line check to an empty room. "OK, guys, see you in 10 minutes," the sound guy says. Turns out, he wasn't joking. We went on to a mostly empty room, but those that were there definitely were kind. By the end, the room had probably filled to about 50 people. But when the room holds 500+, it feels like nothing. Either way, even Superdrag had trouble, with a smaller than usual crowd and some sound difficulties. We partied (too hard) and screamed throughout the set about Tom Pappas "letting the cotton candy fly" (which I'm hoping will catch on -- he has a big 'fro). The Superdrag guys, by the way, are too kind to us. Just good Southern folk who don't judge us for getting crazed. I love their music, too, you know. Matthew Caws of Nada Surf was on hand, too, by the way, and Matt and Scott approached him. Apparently, they kept their cool. Scott's not so sure.

Anyhow, I took it easy over the last couple of hours before the show ended, and after Creamer failed to get us into his hotel, we decided to drive back. But first, we'd stop at a famous New York diner we figured. Passed an open deli, but Scott wanted to sit, so we followed Matt's GPS to a CLOSED diner. Then another. Then we gave up on finding the original deli and went to a McDonald's in Connecticut. I ate a donut. We also exited the highway in Greenwich, Ct., straight into some dude's yard, where all four of us exploded from the car and proceeded to urinate at 3 a.m. in the rain. No harm, no foul. We rolled into Boston at 5:30 a.m. feeling fine.
SET LIST: Ordinary Girls / Lights On / Don't Get Me Wrong / Golden Fleece / Seek Cover / Cedar / Shotgun Wedding / Shine a Light

The next night proved the hazards of live recording. The pressure got to us. Maybe. Or possibly the excitement of being back at The Paradise in front of a hometown crowd with one of our favorite bands. Either way, it added up to a subpar performance that is magnified because we shelled out some big bucks to record it. Thinking that we had been sounding good lately and would want to document that live energy, we bandwagoned onto a live recording that Superdrag had set up (to split costs) and ended up blowing it, fairly big time. "Shotgun Wedding" fell apart at the end, "Shine a Light" completely lost time during the guitar solo, "Madeline" was played lightning fast, "Cedar" and "Golden Fleece" both got off to rocky starts. But why dwell on such temporary mistakes? I've listened to the live recording, Matt and I had a big fight, but it's all in the past now. No harm, no foul -- just like peeing on that guy's lawn. Just a few hundred bucks down the drain. If we can salvage 1-2 tracks perhaps it'll be worth the money, and that doesn't seem unreasonable.

Either way, the night was a lot of fun outside of the temporary embarrassment of a botched opportunity. The guys from Mic Harrison and The High Score are as cool a band as we may have ever played with (and awesome to boot) and again, we were playing with F-ing SUPERDRAG. How could it not rule? Also, the place was surprisingly full, especially compared with the night before, but considering it was Easter Eve, I was shocked. A lot of fine folks came out, and we ended up having a lot of fun. Plus, I felt like a big shot when I jokingly asked Paradise security guy Mike to get rid of our drunk friend Casey because he was "bothering us." He picked up on the joke, and really roughly grabbed Casey and dragged him out. It ruled. So, see, all's well that ends well.
SET LIST: Ordinary Girls / Lights On / Don't Get Me Wrong / Golden Fleece / Seek Cover / On the Lam / Madeline / Cedar / Shotgun Wedding / Shine a Light

Before the show, there was a bit of press from our old pal at Ryan's Smashing Life, with some nice comments below it:
Fresh off a very successful SxSW Music Festival appearance (a definite buzz band and the subject of much twittering) in Austin last month, Superdrag are touring the land to support their new album, Industry Giants. Their battle wagon rolls into Boston tonight for a gig over at the Paradise where we expect they will find more than ample support from local rockers Cassavettes - who are more than capable to make a roomful of noise on their own. Expect to be thoroughly entertained!

Plus, Bostonist gave us some good lovin':
Boston's Cassavettes are supporting along with Mic Harrison & the High Score from Superdrag's hometown. Both bands are serving steaming cups of twangy rock. We've heard Cassavettes crank the roots-to-rock ratio up and down as it fits their mood, but the band always delivers the goods.

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