Last summer Hop Along booked 6 weeks in our recording studio to make their new record “Bark Your Head Off, Dog”. They asked me to help Joe (who plays guitar) with the engineering so he could focus more on writing his parts and just being in the band. Simply said; it was a ton of fun (and obviously a lot of work) to make. We’ve all been friends almost as long as Joe and I have been doing the Headroom; Frances (the singer/songwriter) was playing solo acoustic shows at Kung Fu Necktie around the same time Joe and I were recording on 8 inputs into a laptop in our warehouse. We’ve all been on this crazy journey together, so being able to work intimately on a record like this was extremely rewarding.
We tracked drums along with Bass and guitar/vocal scratch tracks. Mark (drummer) is meticulous about tuning and finding different drums for different sounds for each song, which makes it very easy to record! Recording the rhythm section of the band is fairly straighforward; Relatively few takes for drums, and we kept almost all of the live bass takes (Tyler is an amazing bass player), though there was some amount of comping for drums to get the right fills. Lead guitar, Keys, Vocals, overdubs took more time, as a lot of the arrangements were worked out in the studio. We got to use our brand new Wunder CM7 for vocals, and we had a new AEA R44 ribbon for drums and guitars. We generally tried to track almost everything with little eq or compression as we wanted to give the mixing engineer a blank canvas when it came to mixing. A typical day would consist of tracking Frances in the main live room while Joe played DI into another computer working out different parts, while Mark would make edits with an intern on aux percussion or different drum parts on a laptop. It was a whole operation! This song, “How Simple” has Acoustic (probably Joe’s Guild), Rhodes Piano, Cello and Violin, most of the electric guitar was Joe playing a Gretsch hollowbody, Mark probably used his black Ludwig acrolite snare w a Big Fat Snare mute, and Tyler used his P Bass, with our friend Chrissy (from thin lips) singing backing vocals at the end.
Big Thanks for Ryan Schwabe, who is usually our go-to mastering guy, for doing an amazing job mixing this record!
“Bark Your Head Off, Dog” will be available via Saddle Creek this Spring
Shane Woods started out 4 years ago as an intern out The Headroom’s old location, when Joe and I both lived and worked in Big Mama’s Warehouse. He came to us as a student who admittedly skipped his recording classes. After a couple months of hanging out, he started skipping class to be at the studio, maintaining that he was learning more! Shane was there when we moved all our stuff into our new location and began to work for us as a drum tech and assistant while staying late to work on his own projects. Eventually, Shane was booking sessions for his own clients, and his own band, as well as running sessions for us.
When he wasn’t in the studio, Shane was on the road with his band Mo Lowda and the Humble, and when his band wasn’t on the road they were working on a new record. We’re super proud of the band for working so hard and writing some really amazing songs, and we’re so stoked for Shane who started out knowing so little about producing and now recorded a really incredible sounding album.
And, of course, it was a lot of fun for me to mix!! With lots of textures, layers, and different timbres to play with, the band and I spent tons of time automating all sorts of parameters to really make each song attention grabbing. On this song, Card Shark, we focus on getting the Gibson Grabber bass track to sound really gnarly and sit on top of the Prophet 08 sub octave bass in the choruses. Overall just a great arrangement; the guitar was soaked in effects, but the parts were simple to give room for the decay of each note, the drums were simple enough to distort and compress a lot without having to work about the cymbals sounding to harsh or splashy. Our collective favorite part is the drum machine drop out before the last chorus at 2:46. Look out for their LP “Creature” this spring!
You can stream the new single on Spotify and iTunes
Recently, a local Philadelphia band booked some time at our recording studio, and being as it was their first time recording they asked me if I had any recommendations about what to do to prepare. I started out writing a simple response to their question and found myself at the end of a very long email!! They were appreciative, and I figured if they found it helpful, well….maybe some other bands out there will too! There are of course, no “rules”, and even if there were, they were meant to be broken!!! BUT! This is just some of the easy stuff that I’ve found that really can slow down a session or actually effect the quality of your performance or even of the sound of your recording if you’re not careful!
a common pitfall that occurs when recording drums has to do with dynamics – in a way you want to “self – mix” the sound of your instrument with your performance – which elements do you want loud vs quiet in your kit? if you listen to most drum recordings the snare is the most present along with the kick while the cymbals are, relatively speaking, quieter. A great drum performance will have a kick and snare that are hit really hard with cymbals played lighter (especially hi – hat, and especially especially open hi hat). A bad drum performance is one where a drummer hits cymbals as loud or even louder than the rest of the kit. Keeping this in mind will allow for greater utilization of drum room mics and ultimately more options in mixing. It can be hard to realize that as your playing, but pay attention to how the drums sound in a recording of your rehearsal, or if you’re able, try to give your band mates feedback about dynamics.
Also be aware of the height of your cymbals. Cymbals lower to the kit will bleed into the snare and tom mics making isolation and stereo imaging more difficult.
Also Also Also – if you’re going to record to a click, you should practice to a click. IT CAN BE REALLY HARD!!
A common thing to watch out for with bass is that players will sometimes play extremely dynamically when playing live – loud parts with hard plucking or picking (don’t get me started on slapping) and quiet parts played softly. Great for live! but in a recording you want consistency – while occasionally playing slightly harder or softer. It might seem counter intuitive when the guitar players kick on their distortion pedals, but you should not be picking or plucking harder – it really effects the tone and thus the amount of low end in your mix. Your sound will be bigger if the low end of your instrument is full and consistent. When I play bass I try not to move anything more than my wrist, never ever my arm. listen to your performance – if you can hear the strings bottoming out on certain parts – dial it back. Control is the name of the game. The tone of your instrument is 80 percent your performance and 20 percent your amp/pedals/etc.
Electric guitar is a fairly forgiving instrument but there are things to watch out for – get your guitar intonated – buy new strings!!!!!!!!! play the song by yourself to a recording or metronome and watch for poorly fretted parts, pulling strings, open strings, etc. Playing on a recording is like a microscope on your technique! As far as dynamics; do whatever the fuck you do on guitar, strum as hard or quiet as you want!!!
Really think about the story of your lyrics- its mood, the narrative, your voice as a character in the song. you have to inhabit the space and the emotion that is being conveyed by the lyrics. its the thing people responsd to first before anything else- the feeling of your performance. I find that being a little melodramatic can actually translate well in a recording. With a rock band blasting behind you, there isn’t always room for sublety. If the song is sad – sound absolutely crushed! If its angry sound PISSED. However, usually songs aren’t so black and white, for instance in a recent recording I suggested that the singer make his consenents more pronouned and staccatto so it sounded like one side of an arguement. I’ve also found that the beginnings and endings of phrases and notes are where you can embellish the emotion you’re trying to convey. However it is that you decide to do it, its all about self expression. The recording quality and pitch are secondary to the intensity of the vocal performance.
Like I said, there are always exceptions but more often times than not, this stuff will really make our job easier! And of course, there are lots and lots of tips and tricks you can use especially genre specific ones, but these are a just a few of the fundamentals.
This is all stuff I had to learn the hard way, but hopefully now you won’t have to!
Its been a little bit of a journey, but I’m so proud to announce that the first single from Kississippi on Side One Dummy records is out!
Kississippi, the moniker of Zoe Reynolds, has been playing around Philly basements and clubs (and across the country) for a few years now. I had heard a song of Zoe’s a really long time ago, and felt a real connection to her music, and just followed her progress from doing self-recorded laptop demos to her debut EP “We Have No Future, We’re All Doomed”. A little while after its release, Zoe was having trouble finding permanent members in her band instead of people who could fill in on a tour (she never stopped touring!), or really jam on the new material she was writing. However, her demos she was making in garageband were amazing! You could really her the spirit of the songs through the lo-fi haze. We started this record not in The Headroom Studio, but in my kitchen; programming drums, importing garageband loops from her laptop and passing my rickenbacker back and forth coming up with an arrangement for a full band. There’s actually a lot of stuff from her original garage band demos that made it on the record!! Once we knew how the songs were supposed to go, we had the drummer from Thin Lips, Michael Tashjian, come in and replace most of the programmed drums (we kept some programmed) and add some live rock vibe to the songs (by hitting out c and c kit as hard as he could!). Then Zoe and I took turns replacing most of the demo guitars and synth in the studio (and some still in my kitchen!) After the record was done, Zoe showed it to a few people and found a home for it at Side One Dummy, who were very excited about the record!!! And now a single and a release date!
Liste to the first single Here
This post gets all caps because this is a record that is near and dear to my heart. Not only did I get to work on a really great band’s record, and not only did we spend ALOT of time on it, but I also got to work on a record with my little brother. Today, I put the record on my turntable and reminisced about coming home from college and showing Brad his first chords on guitar, helping him find his first amp (we bought his guitar cab off of the drummer from Bury Your Dead on craigslist, a HILARIOUSLY bro-y beatdown NYC hardcore band from the early aughts), and Pine Barons first show in philly at Silk City to basically no one. I’m very excited that its finally out, and I can’t wait to see whats in store for them.
We’re always excited when we get new tools! Most recently we went on a splurge before working on the new Hop Along record and got ourselves a AEA R44 Ribbon Mic (a replica of the old RCA 44’s), a Wunder CM7 (a replica of the Tube Powered Nuemann U47), Soyuz o11 small diaphragm condensors; also tube powered, and a stereo pair of Chandler Limited LTD-2 bus compressors!
The former singer of pop-punk faves, Chumped, Anika Pyle has finally debuted her new band Katie Ellen’s record “Cowgirl Blues” on Lauren Records. The band and I spend a lot of time putting this together and we are stoked to finally have it out in the world!! Listen and Order it HERE
Over the the winter The Districts took it upon themselves to rent out the Headroom and record their own record along with the help of Pinebaron’s Keith Abrams. They made an amazing record and it comes out this summer! read about it Here
Missed this release from a couple weeks ago, but my buddy Julien Franklin makes amazing RnB under the moniker Elegant Animals. This is the latest jam we worked on together and I think its great!
Hey those guys in cleveland, Alternative Press, must think we’re doing something right in philly. They gave a mention to Thin Lips, Modern Baseball, and Hop Along! Check out the whole list Here
The Key has been doing a musical odyssey of listening to new jams tagged “philadelphia” on bandcamp in 2017 which i think is a very cool idea! I also think its very cool that they happened upon one of my favorite bands to work with recently, Talk Louder! Thanks for the shout out!!!
So excited for this record to come out and you should be too! Had the distinct pleasure of working and hanging with these guys last year and I’m extremely proud of what we made in such a short time. Miss you Great Cynics! Check out this write up for their first premeir!
via Headroom Philadelphia http://ift.tt/2lQFu7i
Hey! Here’s a very sick new band Mothpuppy! We did their record over the summer and it’s finally coming out! Enjoy!
read about their new album here!
Sick EP from some sick dudes. Dead Scouts rocks!! Most dabs smoked by a band while recording!
Thin Lips is premiering a new song we recorded over the summer for a split with Modern Baseball and The Superweaks that Big Scary Monsters is releasing! Listen to our C&C kit get pounded by Mikey Tashjian!
A little while ago we worked on this awesome LP and its finally out! Check out this new gem by Shelly
2017 will be the year of Pine Barons, thanks to the The Key for including them on this list! Check out a sneak preview they released this past year
Spill released their new LP “Top Ten” today on No Sleep Records!! Stream the album here on BrooklynVegan!
Here is a demo for the album shane is working on for his band Mo Lowda & the Humble , sounds sick! They’ll be finishing it up this winter so check this in the mean time!
(artlicle appears in Jump Philly, at https://jumpphilly.com/2016/08/03/headroom-studio/)
The Headroom Studio: Music Mentors.AUGUST 3, 2016
Kyle Pulley sits at the console in The Headroom Studio, his head flanked by speakers resting underneath two new plants that he’s quick to point out upon entering his workspace.
One hears lots of loud, fast clicks as Pulley expertly isolates instrument or vocal tracks, playing with the volume in the mix or fixing some end of a musical phrase. As the gears in his head turn, he’s seemingly unaware of a few mutters of “that sounds weird” and “hmmm” that he lets slip out.
Pulley has been focusing on this one track for the past six hours. It’s for the upcoming LP of Jersey-based rock band Pine Barons on which Pulley has been working on and off for months. He’s been at it for slightly less time today than the band. After playing a show at The Foundry the night before, they returned to the studio to work and ended up sleeping over.
Working hard and with what time and resources you have has been a mantra of The Headroom since the time Pulley and partner Joe Reinhart started in Big Mama’s Warehouse, a space where they lived and worked recording bands with a few mics and a laptop and sometimes for the payment of $20 and a case of beer.
“We knew a bunch of people who were willing to live like crazy people,” Pulley says. “It was a great space to start, because you could take a lot of risk on bands and work for no money for something you really believed in.”
Pulley and Reinhart moved their studio work into the current space on Coral Street in Kensington in July of 2014 and are now a go-to team for dozens of local bands for a quality recording experience, as well as sought after by out-of-town acts searching for the same thing. Reinhart says he believes they’re valued because of the input they provide during the recording process and the fact that they enjoy being as creatively involved as possible or required.
“We know where bands are coming from; we’ve been in bands our whole lives,” he says by phone while on tour with Hop Along, for which he plays guitar.
Reinhart says this experience in bands also means he and Pulley understand not having a ton of money to record. That’s why they try to keep prices reasonable, bridging the gap between expensive studios and bedroom recording.
“We talk about raising our rates but always come to the conclusion that, right now, we’d still rather be affordable for younger bands and bands who are still starting out,” Pulley says. “I’d rather work on a cool record for less money any day.”
There are plenty of cool bands coming into Headroom and cool records coming out. From well-known local acts like Lithuania and Modern Baseball, to out-of-towners like Joyce Manor, Headroom is gaining ground by word of mouth.
Zoë Allaire Reynolds, vocalist of buzzworthy indie folk band Kississippi, says the band decided to record with Pulley as fans of his current band Thin Lips and previous band Dangerous Ponies, as well as having heard about good experiences from multiple peers.
“Kyle had a hand in motivation and gave us a friendly push to take risks,” she says. “Through this, I discovered things I didn’t know I could do with my voice before. It definitely paid off in the end, not only on the recordings, but at shows, too.”
Pulley and Reinhart are understandably happy with Headroom’s headway. They both admit it’s hard to be so active in the studio and on the road with their respective bands. There have even been instances when Pulley or Reinhart have started a project but a tour opportunity popped up and the other person had to step in to see it through.
“It’s a lot because the people in your band are counting on you,” Reinhart says. “That’s something they take super seriously. It’s their band and it’s how they make a living and you’ve gotta be there for them. Then there’s these other bands, a ton of bands that I’m working with, and they’re counting on you. Their baby is in your hands. That’s a huge responsibility. I take that super seriously.”
Being absent or busy also allows the many assistants and interns at Headroom to get valuable hands-on experience, or even book their own time in the studio. Acting as mentors and working on projects based on passion as opposed to necessity are what keep these two engineers content.
“Every day, every morning I wake up and walk to the studio and I’m, like, pumped to work on what I’mworking on,” Reinhart says.
My band Thin Lips will soon be releasing our debut LP right before our tour with Modern Baseball and Joyce Manor. Its a national Headroom tour for sure! check out our video for our first single Never Again!
Lithuana’s new record, Hardcore Friends, (recorded right here at Headroom) is coming out on Lame-O Records on 8/14. Stoked!
You can Pre-order the record here:
Or here, if you’re more into the digital domain
“hardcore friends” music video: http://noisey.vice.com/blog/lithuana-hardcore-friends-video
Well, its not that new….we moved almost a year ago to a shared studio space in Viking Mills up in the Kensington neighborhood, but now we finally have some pictures of the space for you to check out!
Yes! Finally after working on my band, Thin Lips’ EP “Divorce Year” for 6 months, then waiting another 6 months to find someone to put it out, I am beyond excited to unveil our record that is available on Cassette Via Seagreen Records and sooner on 7 in via Lame-O Records
and we are so excited! Big Things are happening for Hop Along with a tour opening for the War on Drugs, as well as their own headlining tour this spring. Here is the lead single for their new album “Painted Shut” to be released on Saddle Creek Records (a lable whose bands I’ve been listening to since high school!). Pre-order it here
Check out the solo of effort of Rachel Brown, of Field Mouse (Top Shelf Records) with guest drummer Eric Slick of Dr. Dog and Lithuania (whose record we produced! LP out this summer!). Buy the 7 inch at Father/Daughter’s website. Rachel and I tracked guitar and vocals for this project last August and I’m so stoked its finally out!
We’re not the only ones who’ve been busy… One of our Former interns, Travis Arterburn, recently recorded and mixed the first release by his new band, Clique. Travis is our first intern past or present to record a full release on his or her own at our studio (why I remember him helping us build high end diffusers like it was yesterday……)! The entire album was completed here at the Headroom within three days in the beginning of September and has already been released on cassette via Kat Kat Records. AND IT ROCKS!! Preorder a copy of the tape HERE!
We’re thrilled to be part of Joyce Manor’s newest record “Never Hungover Again,” released this past summer via Epitaph Records. Last November, Joe flew out to The Lair in Los Angeles to record the tracks live through gear we only dream about, and it came out great!. You can pick it up HERE.
A proper update will be posted once we’re finished all the construction complete with pictures, an updated gear list, etc. BUT!!!! until then I’d just like to announce that we’ve partnered with the The Eastroom and moved to a beautiful studio in the Viking Mill in Kensington. We are also now proud owners of a stereo pair of 31145 Neve Preamps/Eq and an Orange Thunderverb 200!!
Joe and I are so stoked that this is finally out, not just because these guys are good friends of ours, not just because the record rules, and not just because it took a long time to produce, but its the first c0-PRODUCTION that Joe and I have worked on collaboratively from beginning to end (where one of us weren’t in the band that was being produced). It’s also an amazing experience to work on a follow up album (their first record “BASEBALL SEASON” they did with me 3 years ago), because we were able to take our experience the first time around and try to do all the things we weren’t able to do then, and re-use any of the strategies or sounds that worked the first time around. It was a blast to make! Thanks to Animal Style and Eric Osman for believing in these guys as well and supporting them. Check out their new release HERE
Working on this record was such a great experience for both Joe and I. We generally get a lot of rock/punk/country/indie stuff, so getting to work with a different genre such as a really fresh take on r’n’b was really fun and exciting. Joe and I especially loved the challenge of recreating some of the samples that Julien lifted from other tracks in order avoid any copyright woes. All that being said, the songs are just great, check them out HERE
Pill Friends new EP, FADE INTO NOTHING, is now out on digital format, soon to be released on 7 inch! Listen to it HERE
Kite Party’s first single from their new album “Come On Wandering” premiered today on Stereogum. Check it out HERE
So this past winter I did something a little out of my comfort zone…In most settings, whether it be as a band member, an engineer, or a producer, I’ve always played the role of a collaborator in that I help bring someone else’s vision to fruition. I’ve never been the principal songwriter in any (good) band, I’ve never contributed more than a line to a song, and melodies and licks I write are almost always for someone else’s song.
So when I was asked to collaborate with Yowei Shaw, a public radio producer (who has done pieces for Studio 360, This American Life, The World, Fresh Air), on a public art installation called Really Good Elevator Music, I really didn’t think it would be a whole lot different. I thought I’d be helping someone bring their song to life. Little did I know that what I was actually agreeing to would be my first job as a COMPOSER. For a frame of reference, consider that the last song I had actually written was for a hardcore punk band I was in when I was 20, and the last time I had written any music from scratch was in college for a film scoring class.
I had no idea about the amount of work that would go into making the 2 tracks for the project. What Yowei brought to the project was a concept, some audio, and a vague idea of what the music should be. The rest was up to me!! 2 months of nights and weekends later (while I was also trying to finish the Kite Party record as well as a few others) we came up with something I’m really proud of.
The song, “Sunday Breakfast” is a collage of field recordings of kitchen sounds,hopeful lo-fi musical themes, and snippets of men from the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission talking about their favorite foods (as part of an ice breaker for a radio workshop Yowei recorded). Our concept for this track was to put a spot light on an oft marginalized part of the Philadelphia community (in particular the Chinatown North neighborhood) and attempt to humanize them by focusing on something we can all relate to; FOOD!
Here’s some of the press we’ve recieved for Really Good Elevator Music!
The Atlantic Cities
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
It feels like forever since I’ve typed into this grey box, but it’s because I’ve been working furiously the past year on so many things and now they are finally about to come out!!! In chronological order we have….
ROOF DOCTOR – who put a single up a little while ago for their forthcoming LP “Mobile Freedom Home”, that you can check out HERE entitled “Dad”, in which the singer delves into the psyche of his late father. These guys were a blast to work with, and it was a fun record because we did so much writing and collaborating in the studio. The release show is March 29 at Philamoca
PILL FRIENDS – we did a really quick 4 song LP where we attempted to combine their lo-fi aesthetic with the clarity and control of a studio, Check out the advanced single “Promethizine” HERE. They’ll be releasing their record on 4/20 with a release show, and digitally April 1 on Bird Tapes, which their singer Ryan is apparently preparing for by carrying a dead cat he named “homie” around wherever he goes according to his facebook. I wish I was making that up.
ELEGANT ANIMALS – An amazing Electro-RnB group who were a privelege to work with. It was so much fun to work on such a unique take on a genre I usually don’t get to work with. Keep your ears out for the single! Their record drops April 8.
KITE PARTY – This record was really amazing to work on. I love those dudes, and it was amazing to get to work on their 2nd lp ( doing two of a bands LP was a first for me) and for this one, I got to co-produce it with my main bro Joe. The record comes out on Animal Style Records May 6 with a tour to follow. A single will be released soon!
And Finally, I was lucky enough to make my first commissioned composition for a project I collaborated with a public radio producer Yowei Shaw (who’s had stories on This American Life, Studio 360, NPR) called Really Good Elevator Music, where we made music for public spaces which I will write more extensively about in another post
The ever-charming Joe Reinhart lends his expertises on what he knows best in this documentary called My Basement is a Shithole about the Philadelphia DIY Houseshow scene that raised Joe and I like a doting mother. See Joe talk about what he knows best (next to recording bands) and watch a million dudes jump on top of each other under a single bare light bulb as different rad, young, up and coming bands of Philadelphia provide the soundtrack. Watch the movie HERE
for being named by the Philadelphia City Paper as Artist of the year! Read on HERE
A few months back Joe and I were interviewed for the Deli Music blog here in Philly. We got some really well thought out questions, and I thought I would immortalize the interview here on our humble blog for posterity. Read Here
called Algernon Cadwallader. Although the band has been laid to rest, I still get a decent amount of emails/Facebook messages about the guitar sounds (live and on record). “The sound” im thinking of would be referring to anything post 2nd guitarist (i.e. “Fun” and “Parrot Flies”). But enough about me, let’s talk guitar.
The little know G&L Guitars get their initials from George Fullerton and Leo Fender. Leo Fender youknow as the guy who isn’t Les Paul. 2 companies and 20 years later Leo thought he could make a better version of his own “Telecaster” and he did. Referring to them as “The best instruments I have ever made.” I own 2 of the ASAT Classics, the most noticeable differences between them and the original Fender Teles are the larger (Gibson style) frets and the pickups that use magnetic Field Design pickups as opposed to, the standard Alinco. These pickups have individual magnets for each string, that are adjustable! Producing a very even sound that is great for finger picking. Sonically, they have a power and an airy clarity that some of my tight pants wearing peers would refer to as “Twinkle”. Recently the masses caught into these instruments so G&L released a Legacy series at a cheaper price. I doubt they were part of Leo’s vision and have yet to play one that wouldn’t have made a better surfboard. Now I’m getting preachy. Sorry, let’s move on. Live I use two amps. That originally grew out of an insecurity I had about being the only guitarist and Peter complaining that he couldn’t hear me in little basements or a big empty room.
The Twin reverb is obviously a classic clean loud amp. Now Enter the Vox AC30 Custom Classic, that I feel, is responsible for the majority of the AC guitar tone. I used it once and immediately went out and bought it with money I didn’t have. No need to describe it because it is the only amp used on “Parrot Flies”. It’s Little brother the AC15 was used the the “Fun” ep. The recording signal chain probably looked something like this: One frustrated guitarist playing a G&L ASAT Classic direct into the AC30 with speaker output disconnected and replaced with a Emperor 2 *12 cab, recorded with a Royer 121, a Shure SM57, and U87(somewhere in the room), powered by an API 3124, sent into a Sound Workshop 1280b where the signals were eq’d and bussed to one channel and sent to be lightly kissed by a Distressor EL8 before smashing onto 2″ tape. Live the signal chain might look something like this: 2 G&L ASAT classics in different tunings into a stupid Boss tuner, a Rat, an Ibenez true bypass modded 808 Tubescreamer, into a Lehle P-Split between a mid 70s Twin Reverb and a Vox AC30.
Big thanks to Peter, Tank, and anyone who approached me after a show with kind or inspiring words about my spastic often insecure guitar playing. We are all on the never ending quest for perfect tone. How many times I’ve scene a band and thought holy shit that is the best sounding amp I have ever heard while the guy playing is probably like god I hate this fucking thing. I recently decided that if I stop worrying about gear, I can work less and play the guitar more. Although as a studio owner this tends to be fairly difficult.
A few weeks ago, my band Dangerous Ponies, did a live performance in The Headroom as a preview for the record we’re going to work together with Joe on. It was pretty exciting to do a live recording while also videotaping it. It was a lot of work! Not only did we have to set up all of our instruments, and mic them all, but we also had to move lots of shelves, instruments, and furniture out of the way in order to make room for the wonderful lighting provided by friend/big mama’s roomate Matt Hindman and Nick Hatsis who did a wonderful job shooting the video. We did several takes, did some slight edits and came together with a live performance that looks and sounds great! Take a look!
While I do enjoy recording with a band in the studio; building their songs from the ground up, helping them realize their own vision for a song, it always keeps things interesting to mix something that was written and recorded in a space, both physically and mentally, that is quite far from confines of the Headroom. Keith Hampson, of Power Animal, writes about his latest EP, “Excorcism”, which you can listen to here.
This album was created over the course of 10 or so months where I was in and out of the hospital with various illnesses. The palette for the production of this album was a result of being too fatigued to get up and play my instruments most of the time. I had a cassette player that could play in reverse into my sampler, and a big box of cassettes that I’d found at thrift stores over the years. So I arranged a good deal of this album while laying in bed with an Sp-404.
Sings Josh Craft on the new Conversations With Enemies LP. My friend Josh is no stranger to good times, ever since i first worked with him on The Bee Team‘s “Hot Times USA” back in 2007, I have yet to catch him unprepared for a hi five, without a guitar strap around his neck, or most importantly, without a smile on his face. The name of the bands sophomore release is TBA, but its instant tractor beam of infectious songs are available right here on Bandcamp. I am particularly fond of this record because of how it showcases the bands individual talents without sacrificing simple nature of the songs. Jess’s Ringo-esq drumming, Paul Montgomery’s bass playing became the backbone of these songs (even tho he mostly improved them in the studio! Talent!), Seth and Vince’s horns are the most crucial part of conversation’s signature fanfare of fun sound, and of coarse, Josh’s playful vocal melodies will have you signing along so hard you wont even notice you’ve spilled half you beer on the really nice shoes of the girl next to you. And she’s not even mad!
Sorry for this belated post! In early august, Darlings from NY came down to track their newest LP. It was hard work and lots of fun/We had a whole week to work, which was great, because it gave us just enough time to take time to get the right sounds for everything, as well as be meticulous about what takes we wanted to keep. Peter and I had a few different phone conversations in the months leading up to the session to figure out how much time was needed and how exactly how we were going to record. Here’s what we came up with. We spent the first 2 days tracking drums. Below is a picture of us testing out which kick drum we wanted to build the drum kit around (slingerland, and 2 ludwigs from left to right). Matt, the drummer, wanted a roomy sound, so we put the royer on the other side of the room, and tracked bass along with the drums with the amp out in the garage for separation.
Joe and I are finally back from tour! Its so great to be back in philly! Dangerous Ponies was gone for 2 and a half months and Algernon Cadwallader for 1 and half. Now that we’re back, we have lots planned this summer for the studio! We’re going to build isolation and room treatment, build a new website, and of course record some awesome music. This past weekend I did a quick demo session with Baltimore’s Secret Mountains to help them find some sounds for their upcoming full length sessions, NY’s Darlings on Famous Class Records as well as Philadelphia’s own Conversations with Enemies will be coming this August to record with me and joe, respectively.