Saturday, November 13, 2010

Studio Stories, part 3

In the first Ninja Turtle movie there's a badass warehouse where all the foot soldiers (and their recruits) party. Remember it? Of course you do. Remember the first time you saw it and you wished with all of your might that a place that like that existed, that some day you may find it? Oooh, to skate during school hours. Oooh, to play until sun rise. It was like Never Never Land for punk kids, a slightly seedy and lawless lair where the only thing expected of you was to hang, and hang tough. And despite that you had never seen a place like it the warehouse seemed so possible that, unlike Never Never Land, it stuck with you all these years, you carry a little torch for it in your heart, you still hope, dear readers, however old or young you are, that you will find it. We all do.

Well, consider it found.

In Richmond, some of our old and dear friends made it a reality. There are, however, a few key differences from the food soldier's spot. For one, everyone's straight edge. No smoking behind Mom's back there. For two, everyone's vegan. No pepperoni pizzas getting delivered. And for three, it has hardcore shows. YES!

This is where we stayed while we recorded. Day and night vegan kids (associated and not associated with hardcore) filtered in and out of the little kitchen, doing nothing (so far as we could tell) but baking treats ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT. No matter what time we were there, people littered the hardwood floor munching sugary delights. Someone always in front of the stove, someone always mixing at table. Treats, once out of the oven, were for everyone. It was a vegan diabetes-inducing free for all.

Downstairs, ramps and skate boards await who ever wants to ride. A stage stands in the middle of the floor with gear piled all over and around it, the heart of the giant cement building, wires spilling out like arteries. Bands play, practice, and form right there in the center of it all.

We awoke sprawled out on dumpstered couches, peeked into the kitchen (where various baked items lay on cooling racks), and headed to Strange Matter for some heart-stopping southern breakfast. After chest pains were achieved, we rode out to "the studio" (Mike's parents place) to finish laying the guitar tracks.

Ok, you gotta forgive me here. I am not knowledgeable when it comes to gear. But for those who are, Dave gave me a list of what he used on the record.

"For amps, we used a Sovtek Mig 100 and a Peavey 5150, both through the same Marshall 1960 cab. My guitar is an Epiphone SG with EMG 81/85 pickups. For strings, Ernie Ball Skinny Top Heavy Bottoms, and picks Dunlop Tortex .88mm.

I didn't pre-write (nor have I ever) the little guitar solos in the songs, since if too much scrutiny went into it, then there wouldn't be any soul or attitude to 'em. Which is also why when we play songs like 33/45 live, the solos vary nightly. It's pretty common practice among blues players, which is more what I am anyway. So, I just let it flow during the recording."

James lay on the hard garage floor, hilariously falling asleep over and over despite the INCREDIBLY LOUD amps blasting the SIQEST SONGZ EVR in his ears, which we took ample video of. I sat outside combing through the lyrics over and over, making sure every word was where it ought to be. Dave sat on a little stool, click track mechanically dinging away over the drums, riffing up a storm.

After all the guitar tracks were laid came the real fun. Pick slides, "noodlies", and solos. Dave (aka Hans Solo) laid the first one down no problem. But the second... well, let's just say we edited over 20 minutes of  video footage taken while he attempted to get it juuuust right. The video will do it more justice than my words can (vids coming soon, btw.) When we were all on the brink of hanging ourselves on discarded guitar strings, Dave nailed it. The perfect solo. Fuck yes.

Pick slides were done with a credit card ("I saw Unearth doing this on their DVD!") and when those were done, the Endless Fight of recording guitars reached its Bitter End, (which was actually pretty sweet.)

Back at the warehouse, Naysayer was practicing downstairs, upstairs brownies and various other vegan treatage was being made. We plopped down on the kitchen floor, grabbed a snack, and hung out until the wee hours of the morning.


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