|FOR MORE DETAILED PHOTOS OF THE RECORDING SESSION, PLEASE VISIT THE STUDIO PHOTOS PAGE
I thought it would be cool to give you all a glimpse into the process of creating this new album, so on this page I will detail each day of the recording sessions. The normal text (like this) is information written by myself in retrospect. The text in italics is taken from the Session Diary that I kept on my laptop while we recorded in Madison, Wisconsin...you can read exactly what I was thinking and feeling at the time.
Genesis of the project
Back in May of 2002 I worked with acoustic duo Lost And Found on the recording of their album Something Different. They asked me to be their producer. I had never produced a record for anyone else before, but I had a great time doing it and I really enjoyed the creative freedom they gave to me. I set up the recording session at my friend Dave Casimir's house in Madison and hired another friend John Simshauser to be the engineer and computer/tech person for the project. Everyone had such a good time and the results were so impressive that I decided that I should record my next album in an environment like this.
|Jonathan and Tim Rundman with Dave Casimir in the background during the recording of the Lost And Found album, May 2002.|
ENTER THE SILOS
As the Fall of 2002 came along, I knew I needed to get busy on a new album. My experience as producer for Lost And Found was quite an education, and I saw the value of giving creative power over to someone else. I wanted to hire a producer for the first time in my career. That October I was on tour in New York City, and while I was there I scheduled a meeting with Walter Salas-Humara, songwriter and frontman for one of my all time favorite bands, The Silos. Walter's production on The Silos albums was always an inspiration to me, and lately he had been producing other bands as well. I asked him if he'd consider being my producer for my next album, and he said "Send me some demos and we'll look into it."
|In early 2003 I began recording very basic acoustic demos of the new songs I had been working on...usually just two vocals and two guitars recorded as first takes. Every time I wrote a few new songs, I'd burn a disc and send it to Walter in NYC. By Springtime Walter had more than 20 songs to listen to, and we agreed to set up a time to meet and record during the Summer...and he said that Konrad (drums) and Drew (bass, lead guitar) of The Silos would be available to play on the record as well!||THE SILOS:
Walter Salas Humara
Since The Silos were going to be on a Midwest tour in August we decided that working in Madison would be very convenient. I called up my pal Dave Casimir once again, the host for the Lost And Found sessions as well as much of the recording of my Sound Theology album. He had just moved into a brand new house and was happy to have us there for the recording. I was also thrilled to find out that John Simshauser was available in August to engineer the project. Walter and I communicated via email and talked through all twentysomething acoustic demos, paring them down to 12 or so high-priority songs to consider for the final recording. Walter felt strongly about a few songs that surprised me, but I was happy to let him make the final call for the direction of the project.
THE MADISON SESSIONS
Friday, August 22, 2003
This is the day we left Minneapolis for Madison. My wife Dawn, who was four months pregnant with our first child, was able to come down to Madison for the first weekend of work. John, my engineer, rented a big box-truck and brought along piles of fantastic pro-quality recording gear from the audio company he works for, Audio Logic Pro Sound. We also loaded up a ton of my guitars, keyboards, and drums.
|Got up this morning, finished packing up gear, and got picked up by John Simshauser in the rental truck. We went down to Audio Logic and picked up mics, cables, and other gear. Then back to my house to load guitars, Wurlitzer, etc. Sims went on to his house to load the computer, and I picked up Dawn and drove to Wisconsin, listening to Kings X, Ivy, and David Mead. Arrived here at Daves house (pictured left) at 5:30PM and Dawn got the tour of the new place. Beautiful!
Drove into town for dinner at Clean Fast Chinese, and back out to the house to see the tail end of the sunset. Dawn got chess lessons from Dave, and I got the computer working. Sims should arrive in an hour or so, and then the gear unloading begins. Im excited about this session, and feel really prepared for it.
Tonight Dawn and Dave played chess and I read the Time Magazine with Howard Dean on the cover. As we all listened to the Kings X song Picture on Dave's stereo Dawn felt the baby move for the first time! She said it felt like a butterfly. Sims arrived soon after, and we relaxed in Daves living room.
Saturday, August 23, 2003
This morning John and I got all the gear loaded in, and Dawn & Dave went into town to buy some food.
The Silos flew into Chicago that afternoon, rented a car and arrived at the house around 7PM. Everybody loved the house! We had pizza at Dave's dining room table and got to know each other. Later that evening Walter and the band checked out the place, and decided that the living and dining room area (pictured right) would be the best place to set up the drums. We carried in the drum gear and got everything ready.
Sunday, August 24, 2003
We began each song sitting in a circle with me playing thru the whole thing once on acoustic guitar (pictured right). Konrad took notes and make a quick little diagram of each tune. I had made chord and lyric charts for Walter and Drew to follow.
We set up with Konrad at the drum kit in the dining room and Drew playing bass nearby in the kitchen. Walter stood in front of the drum kit with headphones on, monitoring everything. I needed to sing a guide-vocal on each song, but we didn't want my voice getting recorded on the drum track, so I set up my guitar and vocal mic outside on the deck, and looked through the dining room windows at the band. Nature's isolation booth!
Below I make comments on the recording of each song:
|SMART GIRLS: Walter and the band agreed that the funky version was better than the white-boy version. Walter really took the creative producer role right away, with some rearrangements of this song. In went some vocal tags that I would have never picked, but I really like. Konrad and Drew are absolutely AMAZING players. Holy cow.
NARTHEX: This one stayed almost completely true to the demo. It totally rocks, and sounds great. The band seems to enjoy this one, and they like the word Narthex but dont know what it means.
LIBRARIAN: Walter really took charge of rearranging this one as well, especially by encouraging me to add a bridge off a descending A chord. The band was kinda unsure about this one, and even the final take seems not-quite-there but Walter seems confident that itll be fine. The arrangement reminds me of early Police .and its definitely not the way I wouldve instinctively arranged it to be. But Im trusting that Walter has a vision for it.
747s: Again, Walter had a specific vision for this which involved removing most of the intro, adding a big jetplane pre-solo, and altering the ending. But Konrad and Drew TOTALLY kicked butt on the instrumental performances, playing the most rocking hard-shuffle groove Ive ever had for one of my own songs. Im seeing this one as the album opener so far.
THE SERIOUS KIND: I could tell even via early emails that Walter really wanted to do this one. We totally stuck to the original arrangment, and the whole band (and Dave Casimir too) really expressed a love of this song. I guess this song is even better than I originally thought. Walter said to Konrad, Are you ready to do your best Steve Gadd? Man, was he right! Konrad laid down a total 50 ways to leave your lover groove, Drew played the usual AMAZING bass part, and the song was magic in the first take. Walter knew we nailed it right away. He seemed very pleased. This version is considerably slower than the recording on the Extra Credit CD. Itll be interesting to compare them.
Five songs in the first day! Wow! Tomorrow were certain to finish all the basic tracks, and can begin overdubs. Some things Ive observed so far today:
|Monday, August 25, 2003
Got a late start this morning recording began at 11AM with me standing outside on the very hot and humid deck watching Walter, Drew, and Konrad through the window. (pictured right)
FALLING DOWN: For such a basic song, it took a lot of work. Konrad began with some complex drumming, with lots of syncopation on the snare. It took us a while to devolve it back to a simple groove, but when we did, we nailed it. Drew hit every bass arrangement out of the park.
PARK RIVER BRIDGE: Surprisingly enough to me, Walter really liked this song and pretty much insisted on us doing it. The band was quite fond of it too. Its bizarre that it took almost TEN YEARS for this song to get on an album. Walter set it up with a really rootsy, junkyardy drum groove, that kicks into a nice country stomp during the chorus. I had my doubts about it, but now I totally love it.
|SECOND LANGUAGE: Another song the band totally loved. Konrad played a very Lowell-style snare rolling groove, and I played Wurlitzer sitting in the control room with John. Amazingly enough we ended up keeping most of my Wurlitzer performance. Everyone agreed that this one has a real magic to it.
CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS: Another one Im a bit surprised about. Walter has always felt really strongly about this one, and mentioned how important it was to do it considering the current state of the world. The lightbulb moment of this song came for me when we were all gathered around the Wurly thinking about the arrangement, and Walter suggested that it really needed a bridge. I offered up the idea of taking the third verse and changing the music so it becomes a bridge, and by modulating it from the key of A to the key of D. Well, the results were AMAZING and tripled the value of the song, in my opinion. Also, Walters guidance on the songs mood, which I initially doubted, turned out to be really cool and interesting. The song was treated to a huge backbeat on the drums, a nice shifting Wurlitzer part, and Drews interstellar bass playing. It turned out like Hey Jude filtered through Aimee Mann or something.
Tuesday, August 26th, 2003
We began this morning with my acoustic rhythm tracks for all the songs. They really turned out great, and I felt like I was totally able to lock into the groove. Afterwards I sang scratch vocals on all the songs, and that, too, went very well. As we were getting Drew set up to play guitar overdubs the house had a blackout, so we had to take a three hour break. We went into town to a Thai restaurant while we waited for the power to return. After dinner the power was back, so Drew plugged in and he absolutely ROCKED on everything he played (pictured left).
He started with NARTHEX and played a nice Stonesy lead. This song really turned out GREAT. After that he found a good arrangement for 747s but Walter thought that the amp/guitar combo wasnt quite right, so he chose to wait and do it in New York instead. Then he did a nice, pro-attitude performance on SMART GIRLS which began to rescue it from cheesy pop land. Finally tonight he nailed about five different parts on the song FALLING DOWN, which everyone seemed to agree was a total masterpiece. Everyone has been getting along perfectly, and really enjoying each others company.
Drew Glackin, bass
Wednesday, August 27th, 2003
This was our final day in Madison..we had to tear everything down and get on the road so we can be back in Minneapolis by the end of the night. But before we called it quits, Walter had Konrad play a strange series of percussion patterns for the song ALMOST NEVER SEE. John recorded almost twenty different drum parts, and Walter will choose his favorite moments during mixdown.
Following the session in Madison the recording process continued through the Fall of 2003. Walter and Jonathan recorded keyboards in Minneapolis, Jonathan worked with Walter and Drew on keyboards and guitars in New York, Jonathan recorded vocals with John in Minneapolis, and Walter recorded strings and harmony vocals in New York.