Monday, March 26, 2012
I'm only just beginning to crack the surface of this beast, but here's the plan. I'm intending on putting the Axe in a rack with a single space power amp (either a Carvin or an ART... both fair well with Axe users) and running it into a 1x12 cabinet. This rig can be run at very low volumes with the cabinet acting as a personal on-stage monitor. The FOH will get a stereo send from the XLR outs complete with cabinet modeling for the room. The on-stage cabinet would function without the modeling. This is a level of functionality that I wanted from the Eleven Rack, but was one step beyond the processor's capabilities. Too bad too!
The other function I'm hoping to use the Axe for is a complete effects processing unit. I would run all my delays and modulations through it and run it in the loop of the Budda. Fear not, the Budda isnt' going anywhere. By running the Axe in the loop, i can standardize my effects from rig to rig, and the Axe has far more processing power than my pedals. Downside, it's much harder to be spontaneous with settings on the Axe. So, I'll likely keep a pedalboard as well, for those times when I just want my Direct Drive and a tape delay.
So, new toys! If I get this thing figured out, I'll bring it out for one of the April shows. But, for now, there's a lot of learning that needs to happen first.
Friday, January 27, 2012
To recap: the first session was simply to get drum sounds. We made it about 90% of the way there before Scott and I hit the wall, so I took a sample and we called it a night. I know that we'd be starting the next session by looking over the snare sound again before moving on.
Tonight, we started by switching out the snare. The problem with the sound we had was that it was too ringy and lacked a mid-rangey "splat" that I'm looking for. Scott had two other snares he wanted to try. The first was a brass snare he uses at rehearsals. It's beautiful on the rehearsal recordings; very dry, immediate and fat. We threw that under mics and it was close, but possibly too dry. After monkeying with positions on that snare, we swapped it out for his gigging snare: a Pearl Reference snare. We all knew it was the one almost immediately. Just dry enough, just fat enough, but not characterless. We futzed the mic positions a bit and shazam, good sounds.
Next up is the bass. Marty's running direct, but I also want to take advantage of his stereo board. His pedalboard, which is part of his personal tone, has stereo effects that help shape and color his tone. We decided to take a completely dry sound, pure and direct, alongside the wet tone. This will give us the most flexibility in the mix.
Cranfill will be tracking the first 4 sounds with his Bitmo Modded Epiphone Valve Jr. through a 1x12 with a 70/80. The Valve Jr. really has a Tweed Deluxe thing going on, perfect for laying fuzz tones or boosts on. I miked the speaker at a 45 degree angle around the cap edge with a SM57. I then ran that 57 through API 550 and 2500 on the computer. The API's have an aggressiveness to them that just loves guitars.
I opted for my Port City Sahana head, which is a 50 watt Plexi clone, through my 1960BX cab in the iso-box. It's miked with a 57 as well as a ksm32. The 32 is off axis at the cap edge, and the 57 is straight on and dead center. This will be a bit more cutting than Cranfills sound, and should complement it. I'm not going for a huge sound on these first few tracks. Definitely a Marc Ford / Rich Robinson deal. Also been listening to a lot of The Elm's live CD. Great Les Paul into Marshall tones. For these first 4 songs, we'll be going for those kind of tones along with acoustic tracks.
The first four tunes will be:
Take The Train
You and I
Be looking for another update this weekend from our first tracking session!
Monday, January 23, 2012
This new record, whatever it is that we'll call it, is a bit different. We started writing on the new record in early June, having passed our newest member, bassist Marty Dorren, through a trial by fire. Most of these new songs have been written with two main guiding principles:
1. People latch onto melodies, so each song must have a memorable hook. It could be a guitar lick or a keys phrase, but likely it's a vocal melody. Harmonies help reinforce those hooks.
2. If people can't latch onto a melody, give them something they can move to.
I started demoing song ideas in Logic. I'd start with drum tracks created with ToonTrack's EZ Drummer, and then I'd lay down the guitar parts I heard in my head. Sometimes I'd add a simple bass part to communicate the idea. The point of such demos was not to orchestrate parts for the band, or to dictate the changes, but to get the idea out of head so that I could talk over it. I'd come into rehearsal with the demo that I could play for the band, explain the basic thematic ideas and the key points. From there, they'd descend on the idea like an invading army, sometimes pulling it apart and reconstructing, other times merely refining and adding their personalities to the track.
I'm going to take you through one such track from beginning to end. This is a track that initially came in as a Logic demo. There were no words, no bass part. Just guitar and drums. Here's the demo as the band received it:
Planning My Escape by Mike Muscarella
As the band moves this track forward, I will continue to upload samples and progress notes. I may also do that with other tracks.
Monday, January 9, 2012
Monday, January 24, 2011
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I started mixing the first of 11 tracks for the new Violet Mary record titled "After The Plunge". The goal this week is to mix the tunes that will appear on the promotional single, "You Won't Rule The World" and "Whiskey Drinking Woman". Along with those two album cuts, we're going to feature three tunes from our show at The Fairport Landing on June 11. First of those is a new take on Trigger Happy from Marionette, followed by Release (also from Marionette) and our cover of Mountain Time, a tune by Will Jennings and Joe Bonamassa. Joe has mentioned that he can't play a show without playing that song... people will riot. We've found the same to be true; a credit to the quality of the song!
Keep your eyes peeled for "The End Times Puppet Show", the new single from Violet Mary available July 11 everywhere Violet Mary stuff is sold.