The recording process …a new kind of journey for me.
I’ve been very fortunate over the years to record at many studios, but there has been something special about the sessions at The Hangar with Michael Timmins, as we finished up the recording process a few weeks ago.
This batch of songs for me was all about capturing a feel from the band. Drummer James Clark, bassist Jamie Thwaites and I rehearsed for months before the sessions. Every week we would gather, rehearse parts, create ideas and get a good sense of the music.
We went into the studio in mid-October to record bed tracks (drums, bass, acoustic guitar), expecting to do them over two days. We recorded the bulk of them in 5 hours on the first day. Great energy emanating from James Clark on drums and Jamie Thwaites on bass. My acoustic guitar playing felt fine and I was sitting on some pretty good vocal tracks, expecting to re-record them all. No more than 3 or 4 takes of each song. Some, we did as few as two. Everything felt right.
We went back the day after and listened, to be sure we were on the right track. We all liked what we heard and moved on to some percussion and a few acoustic guitar overdubs. As well, we recorded the solo acoustic tune, ‘Box Full of Motel Keys’ on day two. My ‘scratch’ vocals were starting to feel right and I wanted to keep them, as I didn’t think they could be any better.
We were expecting to go back in in November to finish up overdubs, but Producer Michael Timmins broke his wrist and was scheduled for surgery. The next sessions were booked for the new year as he began healing.
During that time, I went through a rich writing period, inspired by the sessions. I ended up writing about a dozen news songs, two of which we wanted to record for the album – ‘Drunk in Vegas’ and ‘So Long Gone’.
In early January, with Mike’s wrist still in a cast, we went in and recorded those two songs. Bed tracks for each song were done in two takes, including lead vocals.
Four more short sessions came soon after – Andrew Barker playing lap steel and electric guitar; Bob Strome playing electric guitar and mandolin; Jamie McKie playing violin and me doing background vocals and some minimal piano. All recording was finished by mid-February. 14 songs in total.
The biggest hurdle for me recording music has always been not feeling very comfortable in recording studios. Not taking anything away from the studios I’ve been in, they are great places and create great art. But, sometimes a right fit can be the right tonic to create and feel right.
With Michael Timmins it’s relaxed, it’s easy, it’s creative. He has this low-key approach that let me feel myself, convey ideas and make music that has life and sounds like me. I always felt comfortable singing and playing and experimenting.
This has been an amazing journey, full of crazy moments to be sure, a lot doubting, but a lot of joy and expression. I can’t thank the amazing musicians enough for their contributions to the project. Their playing will speak for itself when you hear the music.
I can’t thank Michael Timmins enough for being the glue to hold it all together. His production choices are inspired, creative and fitting for the songs. His creative spirit is evident on the recordings. Not to mention that he is a great person. Nice people are good people to be around when making music.
Soon I will share some of the mixes. I’m planning a Fall release, with videos to come out this spring and summer. Hope you can come out to a show!