El Paso, Day 6 - 2018/11/19

Had a solid day at Brainville today, taking care of a few things in preparation for wrapping up tomorrow.

Was able to record the instrumental interlude, “For Her”, and get a really great room sound from the live room. Ross also talked about using the live room to pick up some reverb for the track, so I’m really excited to hear the results once he starts mixing.

Additionally, was able to record vocals for Gabe’s song, “One of My Kind”. It was not an easy task, as it has, vocally, a much different feel/vibe as the rest of the record. Ross was able to help me find the right spots, and coach me to getting a solid performance in what we both feel was right for the song. Pretty happy with the end result, and we might try out adding a keys part tomorrow.

As for tomorrow, Ross still need to add the Leslie part for “Faux News”, and we’re going to try out some keys on “One of My Kind”, too. Also, I’m going to try and take another idea I have and flush it out tonight in order to make it an even 4 on the A and B sides for this record. On my voice memos it’s called “This Old Thing?”, but that obviously won’t be the final title. Going to try tonight to work out something with it, lyrically, that I’ve been trying to/wanting to do for years now.

Looking forward to wrapping things up tomorrow, then it’s in Ross’s hands to mix!

El Paso, Day 4 & 5 - 2018/11/17-18

Sorry for not posting update yesterday, it was tough day.

I hit a wall and ran out of steam a little bit, but was able to get some writing done. Additionally, Emily Booher stopped by to write and record an amazing cello part for “Forever & Always”. I couldn’t believe it had been 4.5 years since she recorded the part for “The War”, and it was great to see her and catch up. She’s got a ton of amazing things going on right now, and was so gracious with her time; I can’t thank her enough. If you haven’t already, give her a follow and check out all the projects she’s working on.

Last night I got some much needed rest, and we started a little later today. I was able to knock out guitars (added a nice little lead, too!) and vocals for “Faux News”. Ross worked out a sweet organ part on a Leslie, and we’re going to add it tomorrow and finish that song up. I also tracked vocals for “Another Protest Song”, which I’m pretty proud of. I unknowingly, as per usual, wrote it right at the top of my range, so Ross really helped with pushing me to get a great performance.

That leaves vocals for “One of My Kind”, and an instrumental track I finished writing that’s tentatively called “For Her”. I fought with writing a melody/vocals, but I think it’s going to fit nicely as an instrumental interlude. If there’s any additional time tomorrow, we’re going to go through and see if there’s anything else to add to or clean up on the other tracks.

That leaves Tuesday for (hopefully) 1 more song…

El Paso, Day 3 - 2018/11/16

Today was a big day.

I finally finished a song that I’ve been working on (albeit mostly in my head) for almost 3 years now. I recorded the guitar and vocals for “Forever & Always”, a song for my wife, Emily. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I think the reason I put of finalizing this song and finishing the lyrics was simply because I wanted it to be perfect for her. I have a tendency to put writing off and try to wait for literally every condition to be absolutely perfect. Emily has helped me realize that, as part of the artistic process, nothing needs to be perfect.

Part of the evolution of writing and music (and almost anything creative, for that matter) is just the act of getting everything inside you out. Every draft of lyrics, format of verse/chorus/verse, and alternate bridge, is just assisting in flushing the proper ideas out. If I were to wait for all circumstances to align themselves “perfectly”, I’d never write anything.

So last night and this morning, I finalized the guitar parts, structure, and lyrics to record her song. I’m pretty proud of it, to be honest, and she seemed to really like it from the rough camera phone video I shared with her. It doesn’t come close to expressing how much I love her, how grateful I am to have her in my life, to be her best friend and have her as my best friend, and how she’s completely saved my life, but it’s a start.

Additionally, Emily Booher, who wrote and recorded the cello part for “The War” from my last EP (also record out here with Ross), just happens to be in town for the Thanksgiving holiday and will be graciously lending her talents. I know that her part will only add to and further enrich “Forever & Always” and make it that much more powerful.

So tomorrow will be recording vocals for “One of My Kind” and “Another Protest Song”, as well as the cello for “Forever & Always”. If we get to it, I’ll do the guitar for “Faux News” as well. That’ll just leave vocals for/finishing up “Faux News” on Sunday. That means I have Monday and Tuesday to try and round out 2 final tracks to give both the A side and B side 4 tracks, for a total of 8 songs.

It’s all happening…

El Paso, Day 2 - 2018/11/15

Day 2 is in the books.

I didn’t get all of what I wanted to have finished today fully completed, but wound up getting a little further along in some respects. I did completely finish “C U Next Tuesday”, including an awesome Moog part by Ross that gives it a very The Anniversary feel. “Faux News” wound up not being as far along as I thought it was, and I’m having to rework it slightly. Will hopefully get that taken care of tonight, and be able to at least lay down the guitar part tomorrow, if not the vocals as well.

I was able to lay down guitar tracks for “Another Protest Song” and “One of My Kind” to finish the day out. “Another Protest Song” is exactly what it sounds like, and takes a very traditional and stripped down folk approach (think Woody Guthrie, The Kingston Trio, and/or The Limeliters) to the current administration. I have the first verse written, as well as a shell of a chorus, so I just need to flush the chorus out and write a 2nd verse to round it out.

“One of My Kind” is a little more difficult for me, as it’s about my late friend, Gabe Velazquez. Gabe was a part of Our Sleeping Giant, but more than that he was a kindred spirit and musical brother to me. I’m still struggling with processing and dealing with his passing, and have put off finishing this song for some time now. As Gabe was from El Paso, it almost seems kismet that I write the lyrics and record this song here. I feel like I owe so much to Gabe, and one song hardly seems sufficient to show my admiration, respect, and love for him, let alone to pay tribute to one of the most genuine human beings I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. All I can do is keep doing what Gabe would do, and keep writing, singing, playing, and being true to myself.

I love you and miss you, Gabe.

El Paso, Day 1 - 2018/11/14

It’s been 4 years since I’ve recorded last, and it feels like a lot longer than that. Much like the last time, I’m back in El Paso and back working with Ross Ingram. This time, instead of Sonic Ranch, we’re at Ross’s own studio, Brainville.

Many people asked me, leading up to this week, why I travel nearly 9 hours via car to record when I live in Austin, the music capital of the world. Well, outside my love of road trips, it’s because of Ross. As a musician, you’re lucky if you’re able to find someone who both believes in you and your talent/ability as an artist, as well as pushes you to get the best out of you while still encouraging you. Ross has that ability, and for me is exactly what I need; it’s the right balance of nurture and push, and always gets the best out of me.

Today was day one at Brainville for the new EP/LP…still figuring that part out, tbh. We got “Time of Troubles” completed. Guitar, keys (thanks, Ross!), and vocals. Really happy with the results, and excited to get back to it tomorrow. Not sure how much I’m going to be able to get finished while I’m here, but I have no doubt in the quality of the finished product. Hoping for 6-8 songs, and will be pressing to vinyl for sure. Also, we’re recording to tape, so that’s 2 bucket list items in one session for me.

Tomorrow we’ll be working on “C U Next Tuesday” and possibly “Faux News”, we’ll see. I’ll be posting each night with update as I get back to my Airbnb, and will keep posting via Instagram and Twitter with update from the studio during the sessions.

Until tomorrow,