The Secret Life of LP 9 part 1
It’s official. We are in the studio
We have been for a few weeks now. What started out as some song hangs with our old pal Mike Viola has turned into full fledged album making. We’ve decided to see all three of us - Griffin, Mike and myself - as producers. Not for the sake of any ego trips, only to give everyone permission to quarterback any given moment of a session if the spirit so moves them. And it’s working - just by simply calling all of us producers, it has empowered us all to contribute and collaborate in ways that we haven’t before.
We’re cutting each song as a duo. Me on guitar and Griff on drums. And we’re trying to make sure that the song feels fully realized within that sparse instrumentation before adding any other instruments. I’ve heard that The Hendrix Experience used to cut their tunes with just Jimi on guitar and Mitch on drums and then they’d overdub bass (also played by Jimi on the albums, supposedly). I guess we’ve taken a page out of that playbook. And once we know we got the take I go back and play bass and keys and maybe more guitars and griff adds some of the wildest, most incredible percussion ideas. I know I’m biased but I feel like it’s this element specifically that is largely responsible for the identity of this album. At one point I saw him hitting a snare drum full of popcorn kernels. At another he was whacking one of those hand print executive toys with a mallet. Like I said, pretty wild stuff.
Playing these songs as a duo with Griff has really felt like taking a fat neon highlighter to the essence of this band. Lee and Wylie are the fucking best at what they do and way better at their instruments than just about anyone in my humble opinion. So I’m not speaking to that. It’s just always felt like the two most distinguishing qualities of our band have been the songs themselves and Griffin’s drumming. And now those two elements have been given the entire focus. And on top of all of this, we’ve got Trevor in with us taking it over the top. He’s already played bass on a tune, some keys on another, and ripped an epic solo on the song “Surprise!” His presence is felt throughout in a major way. All the hardcore Trevor fans out there will be immensely pleased.
We’re currently doing all this in Mike’s home studio called Barebones. Initially we planned to be in a new studio Griffin and I are trying to build out but, as you can imagine, our dates just keeps getting pushed. And now we’ve found ourselves in such an inspiring workflow in Mike’s space that we’re scared to leave. And that statement isn’t at all superstitious. I think space will always dictate how art is made. Limitations force creativity. And random details like a certain pickup on a guitar not working shaping my tone or even just low ceilings forcing Griff to hit his cymbals a certain way can have such major implications for how a song gets played. And the results we are getting have been really exciting to us. I’m not trying to make this a puff piece. Just trying to articulate that this album has been really satisfying to make in the most unexpected of ways.
I know I’ll be talking about the album and the process a lot on here so I’ll save some thoughts for future posts. For now, here’s a demo of one the songs we’ve cut. It’s called House Parties. I’ve played it live acoustically a lot so some of you might know it. This was recorded when I wasn’t really finished writing it and our album version doesn’t sound much like this either so don’t get too used to it. But it’s what the song sounded like when it was born. I hope you enjoy.