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Some New Motivation

October 13 2005 12:49 PM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

Last fall, my Fall League team got together for a post-season gathering. In advance, I assumed it'd be just another fun gathering for drinks and conversation. To my surprise, one of my teammates brought his guitar, and we ended up passing the guitar around and playing songs for most of the night. It was an absolute blast.

Since he and I were teammates on a club team this fall, we kept mentioning to each other the possibility of another night of guitar playing. With our season over, the opportunity finally hit last Friday. This time, though, we both brought our guitars (as did another teammate).

Once again, it was an absolute blast. We ran through a bunch of covers, and had several others on the team singing along. (It was amazing how many times a random group of us would nail multi-layered harmonies.) We didn't really have a lot in common in terms of repertoire, but it seemed to work out well regardless. He played a couple of Indigo Girls and Simon & Garfunkel songs, and I played a handful of R.E.M. songs. I even had the chance to throw out a couple of my songs, which I rarely (if ever) play for anyone.

After working on Saturday, I woke up Sunday strangely motivated. I've been tinkering on songs for months, with probably ten nowhere-near-finished songs on my computer right now. But I felt like I wanted to do more than just record scratch takes of new songs. Over the span of the next couple of days, I ended up completing an old demo, recording a couple of new songs, and re-recording "Time (Frame of Mind)" to fit the new format.

Long story long, the "new format" is an offshoot of a recording session that I ran with Reuben back in January of 2003. He asked me to help him record a couple of new songs of his, and we spent three hours recording three songs to four-track. Mainly, acoustic guitar, vocals, plus some weird effects for good measure. On one song, we arranged a whole bunch of bizarre percussion, basically consisting of whatever noise-making instruments I had lying around. The sessions were unbelieveably organic: more than once, I'd punch a button on my effects board and the first sound would be perfect. We used mostly first-takes, but you honestly couldn't tell that when we were finished.

Hearing what we could do with a four-track, an acoustic, and some percussion sent my mind wandering. The clearest benefit was that it was far easier to record than the full-rock sound I'd been working on for years. I'll admit that certain aspects of the recordings for Once Every Never really disappointed me, which is partially why it sat so long on my computer finished but unreleased. (The last bit was recorded in March of 2002, but I didn't share the disc until January of 2003.)

A couple of months after that session with Reuben, I sat down and recorded a scratch take of "Time (Frame of Mind)" on the four-track, and loved it. Ever since then, I've been tinkering with a sound that's basically acoustic guitar, bass, and vocals, with a maraca, a bongo, and a Rubbermaid box as a pseudo drum kit.

Now that I'm no longer using a 233mHz computer manufactured in 1997, I'm blessed with the option of using something other than CoolEdit96 to record. I picked up Cubase SE earlier this year, which is a giant leap compared to the process that made Once Every Never. It's mainly giving me the freedom to layer in harmonies and additional guitar parts that were cumbersome under the old process.

I still want to re-record the four-track demos (of the "new format") from the last couple of years, but I'm delaying that for now in favor of recording other material.

I'm excited enough about how the sessions this week turned out that I'm planning on uploading the four songs I recorded to My Music. I'm still tinkering with the mixes and such, but I'm really, really pleased where this all is going.

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