Recorded: August 30th, 2012
Instrumentation: Tr-909, Roland 501 Space Echo, Acoustic Guitar, Upright Piano
Audio Stems: No
My whole life I've felt the third song of a record should present what the album is truly about. It doesn't have to be the best song, it just has to capture the spirit.
This week's track embodies the true difference between a traditional song and an Audio Journal. Ambient in nature and possibly a stretch for some listeners, I've always felt there is something unique and beautiful about this recording. It's not the melody, or the chord progression, and certainly not any lyrics. It’s not the production or instrumentation or attention to detail. It's just the feeling. Loose, sloppy, perfectly imperfect.
Welcome to 2012..... Augustines had just finished our first international tour supporting Rise Ye Sunken Ships. We calculated that I was away from home for 80% of the previous year and a half. Life as I knew it had completely changed. My guest room was officially converted to a studio. My in-laws gave me their piano: always out of tune, always a joy to play.
This song started with my wife's Yamaha acoustic guitar. The same style of guitar Elliot Smith used to play. At this time I had just gotten my 909 and was still learning how to use it. Not synced to the computer, I was originally using the drum machine more as a click track than a beat. I wanted to make it a bit more interesting so I ran the 909 through my space echo. I adjusted the delay rate to give it a laid back feel—that feel is something that's all too often forgotten with digital delays.
At this time in my life I believe I had a Focusrite sapphire interface, though it may have still been my mBox. The drums and guitar were tracked together, live in one take. One mic on the guitar, probably my 57.
After this free improv of piano, guitar and drum machine was put down I placed markers in my pro tools session so I knew where the chord changes were. I sat behind the piano and improvised a pass through, then another, then another. You can hear them all. Left, right and center. At the time piano was still very new under my fingers. I stumbled through the chord changes leaving no single pass strong enough to carry the song. But all three together filled the holes, and the mistakes, and made something complete.
Unfortunately I no longer have any of the session files for songs before 2014. A note to all of you musician's out there. Hard drive management is real. All too often the lack of money to buy a new hard drive puts us in difficult positions where we have to transfer data from one drive to another. In the past few years I've realized the importance of buying a dedicated drive for each project you are working on. Don't mix and match.