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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Life In The Studio, Part 1

Current mood: busy

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I promised someone before I left that I would write a blog about the whole recording experience, and I finally have the time and somewhere (thanks Frank) to do it.
 
It's been an interesting and pretty fulfilling experience so far. I've met new people, seen many interesting and different locales, and have seen true musicianship in action.
 
I guess it really starts on the journey to Seattle. The entire trip was around 23 hours, split over two days. The sights were cool, or at least, the things I did see in between being passed out. Our ride up there was Abe's (the guitar player) old Ford Crown Victoria. If you've ever seen old cop cars, that's pretty much what it looks like. We had it stuffed completely with guitars, basses, luggage, food, entertainment, snares, anything and everything a band could need on the road. It was bad enough that the rear end kinda sank, making the tailpipe remind us everytime we went up a curb how low the car was. I took the back seat, and if you've ever seen canned sardines, that was how comfortable it was, especially if you know me ;) and
how much space I take up.
 
We became a true band on the road, outside of Fresno. Our rear driver side tire decided it was its time, and shredded on us. Luckily, it didn't really pop, and we caught it before we were actually going. We pulled out the spare tire (which Abe almost didn't bring, lol) and tried our luck. The best that did was get us going at 10 miles an hour, cruising on the side of the freeway. It too eventually gave out, and we dragged the car underneath a bridge. Being caught on the 5 freeway, stuck under a bridge for shade was probably the least amount of fun you could have. We called up a tow truck, and it eventually came and took all of us to a random town a little further north (I wish I could remember the name of it). They put fresh tires on, and we finally continued.
 
The Bay area was something else. We drove through Oakland, and I tried to remember how to be fluent in gangsta speak, in case we ever needed it...which we really didn't, as it was mostly adding "naddadamean?" and "what it is?" to everthing we said. We crashed out in a place called Vallejo, which is about a half hour from San Francisco. I remember actually being cold that night. 
 
The next day was the longest, about a 12 hour drive from Vallejo to Tacoma, our final destination. It was pretty crazy seeing Northern Califronia going into Oregon. It's more green and mountains than even the trip to San Diego. Literally thousands and thousands of evergreen trees dot the mountains, in between valleys of lakes and green grass. We stopped at a town called Weed (yes lol, there is a town in Nor Cal called Weed.) and grabbed pictures of the scenery, mainly Mount Shasta.
 
Oregon doesn't look much different from Northern California, but there is a weird difference in a certain practice that they do. You may or may not know this, but you can't pump your own gas in Oregon. Someone works outside, and asks you how much you want, and then does all the other work. Not really much of a big deal, but I thought it was kinda odd. 
 
We kept working our way up, and finally got into Portland right as traffic kicks in, like every big city. We decided to stop and grab some food, and what better place to experience true Portland food than a Mexican restaurant, because you know, we don't have Mexican food where we come from (LOL). Anyway, we walk in and order, and I guess the lady at the counter is impressed by the way Abe pronounces "carne asada". She actually asked me if we were Hispanic, because I guess no one in Portland knows how to pronounce "chile relleno" or "pollo". I guess it helps if you're really Hispanic, too. Thanks, Spanish class!
 
After a drive over a drawbridge in Portland (I didn't see the castle it went to), we get right into Washington, and are greeted by the whole "Welcome to Washington" sign, followed by another sign that said "Don't Destroy Our Homes!". I guess they found out that we were going up there to wreck random houses and party it up SoCal style. After driving a little further through Olympia, we finally make it into Tacoma, which is technically around
20 minutes from Seattle, but I think it's all the same anyway.
 
For the next few days, we stayed at the producers house, going over every song, taking them apart, getting told I suck on bass (I already knew that), it's all wrong, "Nope, nope, can't do it!", making Frank's drum parts even harder than normal (syncopation?) and generally laying down all the work before we hit the studio.
 
In between all that work, we found time to see different places. The producer had a show at a place called Mt. Si, which is basically a place in front of a huge, huge mountain. It was cold there, too. (I know, I keep rubbing it in :P) We also got the chance to tour downtown Seattle. We looked up at the Space Needle (It's expensive to go up!) and walked around the park there. We wanted to experience some fine dining, so we went to the McDonalds there (because Seattle is like no other place in the world). I guess a lot of people like to hustle at the McDonalds, because there was this manager or something there who walked around and kept scoping out what people were eating or doing, and then when they looked at him, he made some kind of excuse to make his obvious spying less obvious. If you've ever seen the movie "10 Things I Hate About You", and the scene where Heath Ledger is singing in the stands, we were there too. It's a really cool high school in Tacoma. The actual building was an old castle remade into a school. It overlooks the waterfront and the Puget Sound, which is very serene at night.
 
As of right now, we are currently at The Tank studio, laying down tracks and making the whole album come to life. I haven't done much yet, because my turn isn't until next week. Still, it's really fun to watch all the music at work and what it all takes to make something sound amazing. Hopefully there'll be a part 2 to this soon.
 
-Gray
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