Oh, where to begin? How does one describe the nearly indescribable day? Will words suffice, or should I call on telepathy?
Let us begin…
It was supposed to be a simple afternoon: arrive, warm-up, and sing the poorly named and as yet-re-monikered RUN TO ME. But from the first my voice wouldn’t quite warm up. Not that I couldn’t hit the notes, mind you, just that it sounded like I was coming off 4 SP shows in a row. Still, I soldiered on, and sang the opening A verse and bridge effectively enough; whereby I attempted to fulfill Howard’s dream of a triple-tracked chorus.
But when listening to the results, something was off, which opened up a discussion of perhaps the song would be better sung not ideally, but more so as single takes with a higher emotional value. And although Howard made the ‘little sad face’ he makes, he said it was probably for the best. Hearing the results, he soon agreed. Though with each take my voice seemed to get worse, not better.
“Allergies?” I wondered’ though I felt fine.
“You know we don’t have to do this?” he suggested in coded, LA-producer speak. “We could move onto something else.”
We took a break. “How about DORIAN?” I asked. And a half hour later I was on the couch listening to the basic track: T Lee drums, bass by BC, guitar by BC. The usual.
“What is it?” The Shredder asked, seeing my own little sad face.
“Something’s off. Something about the way we’ve interpreted it.” And this is usually the point you ask your skinsmen to go back out and re-cut what you got, offering as you would apologies for giving him the wrong information to spit back to you. Except…
‘My’ drummer as such is currently on a mega-tour with ‘his’ fucking awesome back, where he’s riding on a drum-coaster over the arena audience and his band mates are LITERALLY shooting fire from their entrails.
“Should we call Matt?” Howard asked, knowing that my long-time mate and SP alum is in town.
“No,” I replied. "Because it’s not as simple as that. It’s the same issue we faced on 1979; a band-ish version just doesn’t cut it.” I cited the original demo, but Howard made the sad face again.
“Howard, Howard,” Jeff said, “it’s not that we don’t like what Tommy did, and it’s not like what Matt could do would be bad. What he’s saying is that what ‘works’ about the demo is the mechanized feel. That without that you can’t get the same pulse.”
“Ok,” Howard said, using that little high voice he uses when he doesn’t a) agree or b) totally understand but c) doesn’t want to seem like he’s being d) obstructionist or e) a luddite.
So out came my Simmons SD-7 (bought from my pal at ToneTweakers.com, where you find all your vintage synth needs. And no, not only do I not have an endorsement, but also he charges me MORE because he figures I can afford to subsidize his self-same addiction). Voila! A crushing beat and a wry smile from Herr Producer. “Not bad,” he nodded. “Not bad.”
To that we added samples of T Lee’s drums we’d procured, and presto change-o we were ‘back in the game’ (to quote one of my erstwhile friends, who has endorsements everywhere). After a quick pause I went to look for Howard, who was re-mic’ing up the bass cab. “Oh s$&#,” I told Jeff. That’s right, I’ve got to replay the bass too!” But Jeff being Jeff said, “But why not use synth bass?”
Out came the PPG, and a 303 clone. Voila mi amigo! Crushing bass to go with crushing drums.
“Now we’re talking,” confirmed Shredder. I had to laugh. “T Lee’s actually gonna like this way better!”
Add hours of syncing waveforms, oh and the Voyetra bass-line which rips the track apart at every change (also purchased from ToneTweakers.com!), and Howard was looking livelier by the moment. But wait, there’s more.
“Do we even need guitar?” I asked.
“Well, I think so,” Howard replied, in the voice he uses when he wants you to know he can’t be responsible for your anger when the idea you just negated, and that he promoted, doesn’t work. And in setting up the prior accouterments: Selmer head through tweed Marshall cab, out came this ‘a UFO is landing’ sound; for my amp was self-oscillating itself to death.
“Again?” I moaned to Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior (and no, I don’t have an endorsement); my amp’s tubes turning blue as they began their launch and self-destruct sequence. To ‘fix’ the issue I was forced to turn down the bass far more than I like.
“Should we use a different---“
“No,” I shouted. “Let’s proceed.”
Mincing along the track was now splintering from the treblonic combo of synths, crusho drums, and overpriced synths.
“I think we’ve gone too far,” Jeff said, which means we must have gone REAL far-far.
Howards shook no. “I like it.” Codespeak for “I think it would still get on the radio” OR “this song will never get on the radio so it doesn’t matter.”
“I agree!” I said. And I went home late with my ears ringing to the re-cut, I don’t know what it is anymore DORIAN. Knowing that, like in my youth, I’d ruthlessly chased a track down to it’s bitter end; or mine.