This is amazingly hard to believe... it has been an entire year since we first entered the studio. And what a year! I remember it like it was yesterday... following six months of grueling rehearsals, Brendon, Bonnie, Jason, and I descended on the Brickhouse Studios in Wichita with a will! I had a two-day session scheduled, and we were soon joined by Drew and Dave as we spun out the foundation tracks for what would turn out to be a little more than half the album...
I'm not gonna kid ya... That couple o' days was one of the best experiences of my life. There was the day I got married, the day my son was born, and there was the day I first went into the studio with my band. Sure... I'd recorded in studios before, but never anything quite as extraordinary as this place, and never with so many people who had meant so much to me over the years. I could go on about how awesome the studio was for hours... It's a fantastic place. Not a basement operation (not that I'm knockin' those!), but a real, professional environment with a talented producer full of great ideas. And it wasn't a cold or impersonal place.. the vibe was awesome!
But I'd really like to take a moment to talk about the people.
Drew and I had a discussion the other day about the complexities of jumping in and out of bands and lookin' for the next opportunity to jam with folks who are doin' something different than you did yesterday. It's a really challenging, but ultimately quite rewarding, way to live. Musicians love to play... and good musicians are always lookin' for inspiration and new ideas. But people are people... which is to say, people come in every shape and temperament. And artistic people often take their issues to extremes. There are egos at work there... so you often have to look around to find the right fit. And since bands are typically composed of anywhere from three to six troubadors (sometimes more!), it's tough to find a balance that'll work well for everyone involved. Often, it becomes vital that the goals and priorities of the individuals mesh in a way that overshadows individual disparity.
That's just one of the things that made this experience so fantastic... and still does! When Drew and Bonnie and Brendon and Dave and I get on stage together, we never have to worry about anyone's ego... we each work hard to make everyone else sound good and provide a powerful performance than meets the needs and expectations of ourselves and our fans and services the artistic demands of the music that brought us together. And in the studio... it was pretty much the same.
Yeah, I know... it was the Captain's show. Everyone tried hard to bring their "A" game and make sure that I like what they came up with. I wrote the tunes and I was footin' the bill, so I needed to be happy with the product. But one of the reasons that I knew that I would be was that I was committed to making it a rewarding experience for everybody. I wanted them to be proud of the CD, and I wanted them to cherish the memories of our time constructing it. Studio work can be stressful... ideas don't always work in execution the way they do in your head, and your hands or your voice don't always cooperate.
But when you're doin' it with friends... every moment is made better.
Over the months that followed, I drug every bit of innovation I could out of those guys. I asked them for ideas... I threw new material at them... I put the pressure on when it was needed, and I backed off where it would do us the most good. I spent extra time to let Brendon or Drew throw down something different, and I committed blocks of studio time to arrangements for the horns and freeform jams.
It was expensive... but it was worth it. The CD is everything I wanted it to be, and a product that me and my friends can be proud of forever. I also documented the entire process on our YouTube channel so we could share it with friends, fans, and fellow musicians... not a lot of indie artists can or will ever drop that kind of cash to work in a high-end studio, and I love having the opportunity to provide a litte insight into the experience.
It's been a great year, and I'm really lookin' forward to seeing what the next one has in store. And I'm definitely looking forward to takin' my friends back into the studio for our sophomore effort, as soon as we can get enough material written to make it plausible. Of course, it helps to spread the word... and buy CDs. *grins*