Jun 11, 2014

Trailer Trash Rock Stars

When Loincloth were in the studio three weeks ago, we ended up having to do some things I never thought I would do for a recording.  In the past I've always had most everything completely mapped out well before we hit the record button.  I always knew where I wanted to go with my drums, and I was relatively comfortable with my ability to play my parts.  I say "relatively" because you lose a certain amount of comfort in the studio, in large part because you understand that you are about to leave the only lasting version of your vision for the world to hear.  It's final, and there is no turning back once you say "Okay, that's it guys."  Once that little bit of comfort is gone your confidence, or at least my confidence, can easily be shaken.  Throw in headphones that never sound great followed by a handful of mistakes you don't remember ever making before and soon you find yourself wondering if it isn't too late to be the guy who sweeps up after the elephants at the circus, or perhaps a food taster for an unpopular dictator... anything that might be more glorious than discovering that you are the worst drummer to ever enter a studio.  Fortunately for me, this round in the studio was different in that reality forced me to roll with things and experience kept me from stressing out about the 'unknowns', of which there were many.

The last post here at The Poundry dealt with how we got ready for the studio and our first day of recording.  Once we were done that first night, we were left with three more songs. Sounds easy enough, right?  The thing was, we had only finalized our arrangements for these songs three days earlier at the practice space!  In fact, Tannon and I still had to put one of the songs together before we went into the studio for our last day of recording!  We had one pretty well flushed out idea to record, another song that hit a creative wall a few weeks earlier which we only worked out 72 hours before going into the studio, and one song that was nothing more than seven or eight riffs we knew could go together, we just weren't sure how to make them work yet.  We dove head first into these 'unknowns' and somehow managed to avoid all the jagged rocks that were just waiting to crack our dense skulls wide open.

We decided to begin our second day of recording with the "... pretty well flushed out idea", mainly because it was a slower song, and because we knew the other two could create some momentum/confidence issues for us both.  While it still took some time, we were really happy with the way it came out.  It probably took less takes than any of the other songs.  It was supposed to be a sort of mood piece for us.  A song that slowly washed up around you and made a solid statement before retreating into the murky netherworld with your soul.  Yes, you really can do all of that... if you have the right drugs.  If no drugs potent enough are available you'll need a producer like our beloved Greg Elkins.  He has plucked many souls while acclimating to his home here on Earth, and has proved to be quite useful to us in matters of soul depletion.  Once we had this particular track in the bag it was time to move onto the unknowns.  That meant it was time to do things a little different.

The last two songs that we recorded were two that still had me scratching my head.  One had been written up to the 'outro', which is actually a trademark Loincloth dilemma, and the other was still a bunch of riffs laying in a big pile waiting to be assembled.  We did decide to tweak the last 'verse' of the song that was mostly completed, but it was a minor change and it was easy for me to figure out what I could do to enhance the new arrangement. Can you still call something a 'verse' when talking about instrumental music?  Loincloth damn well can!  We make our own rules.  Up is down to us, black is white.  If you think we suck, it's your ears that suck... got it?!?!   So anyway, we went for the nearly completed song first. We decided to record it up to the point where the outro began and call it a day.  Tannon and I had to practice it in the studio for about forty five minutes.  When we were recording 'Iron Balls of Steel' we had to do that a couple of times.  Before that experience I may never have considered spending studio time rehearsing, but it really did help.  It took the pressure off of us for a few minutes once we stopped worrying about the fact that we were paying a lot of money to learn something we should already have known.  The writing process for this record is such that Tannon and I don't have much one on one time and honestly, Tannon has written so many parts where one guitar does something very different from the other guitar that it becomes problematic rehearsing with just one guitarist all the time.  Craig's parts can be different enough that when Tannon and I play I don't recognize the song at all!  This song was like that, so I felt completely justified in spending a little time getting more comfortable with the song instead of feeling the pressure of trying to record every take, only to have to reset the board every time.  We got our solid take of the song up until the outro came in, and went home very happy.  We had an outro to record the next day and a song to write that night so that we could record it, too.  It was time for us to just throw it all out there and trust that we could pull it off.  

When we got to my house that night Tannon and Monica spent a little time catching up while I mapped out my outro pattern.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do, but the pattern takes about 45 seconds to to play and I wanted to have a couple of different versions of it down for the recording.  I could play part of it without looking, but basically there are four lines in the pattern and each line shifts in relation to the guitar by one note.  It takes all four lines for it to get back to "the beginning" and it gets a little weird midway through the third line.  I needed it written out to be able to ignore how strange it feels at that point.  I could play it all the way through by myself but when I tried to play it with Craig at practices it fell apart.  I couldn't focus on where I was anymore and found myself doing the same thing over and over because I automatically listened to the guitar.  We had made it through the part a couple of times in the space but it wasn't pretty. It's just one of those parts you have to plod your way through, trampling over everything until you eventually know it by heart.  Once I had the part mapped out Tannon and I got busy writing the last song we were going to record the next day.  Does that count as coming "down to the wire"?

Most of the riffs for our last song had been written and recorded individually and were in a big riff file on my computer.  Some of the things we wanted to do had only been talked about once over the phone after emailing our thoughts back and forth.  Tannon had a rough sketch that we worked from while he played his Flying V on his lap and I beat my legs to death with a pair of drumsticks here in our living room.  I grabbed a pillow to hit instead of my thighs after about thirty minutes, and it was a damned good thing, too.  My legs looked like giant logs of blue cheese the next day; pasty white with nasty ass purple-bluish bruises all over them.  Sexy, I know.  It's but one of the many sacrifices I make for our music.  We stayed up until almost 5:00 in the morning assembling our two minute beat-down.  It's a bruiser, whether your legs look like moldy cheese at the end of it or not.  We filmed Tannon playing the whole thing on his phone so we would have a reference if we needed it the next day and got some sleep. We had our work cut out for us in the studio the next day.

Tannon and I got to the studio around eleven o' clock the next morning.  We must have looked like two undead vagabonds stumbling and mumbling our way through the parking lot, but we made it and that's the important thing.  I took advantage of the fact that Tannon had some guitar things to record first thing and sat down with my shiny new pattern on the curb outside the studio and began beating the street with my sticks while flailing away with my feet.  The construction crew across the street had no idea what to make of this undead ginger whacking the asphalt with drumsticks, but they kept their laughter and comments to themselves.  When it came time to record our outro I did something I have never done before. I taped my mapped out pattern to one of my drums and 'sight read' while we recorded.  It took several takes, but we got it.  It was originally going to be a fade out, but we tend to keep the entire section at full volume once we hear it in the studio.  I think this is one we'll keep too, because by the time we slowly add some other guitar stuff into it it will take on an identity of its own that we won't want to disturb.  It's a good section to get lost in, and it's very different for either Loincloth or Confessor.  Two minutes or more of the same guitar riff is unheard of in our quarters. 

The last song that we recorded was the one we just finished writing the night before.  Writing it was one thing, but there was something I knew I wanted to play that I had never messed around with before.  I had to construct a nine second roll on my floor tom and bass drums that used just a little snare and cymbals every now and then. Once again we found ourselves writing in the studio.  It always sounds so decadent when you hear about bands spending months writing their albums in the studio, but now I see how it can be habit forming.  You get to hear every idea played back as soon as you come up with it in a studio that sounds fantastic!  For that one afternoon we were like rock stars... trailer trash rock stars with legs that looked like moldy cheese logs. There is only one word to describe the scene.  Hot!  

We have right at half of our follow up to 'Iron Balls of Steel' recorded, thanks to lots of hard work, experience and an adventurous spirit.  Oh yeah, and our own Soul Stealer, Greg Elkins, who truly is the Man Behind the Curtain.  We are very excited about what we've done so far, and I am even more excited about what we have left to do.  I know that these posts about our time in the studio are not for everyone, so thanks to anyone who has stuck it out with me.  I won't go through the blow by blow next time around.  I will spare you that much, at least.  We are about to begin culling riffs for the remainder of the album.  Once it's out you'll begin to hear about one nation after another falling before us as we drag the world to the dawn of my Sheltopian vision.  "Free speech for all who agree!  Endless suffering for those who see things slightly different."  If anyone has any ideas for clever mottos along these lines I can offer you an ambassadorship to some of the most dangerous corners of the world.  Think of what good you could bring by exposing the most impoverished regions on Earth to Confessor and Loincloth!  I feel warm and fuzzy just thinking about it!  Again with the deep, creepy laughter... here!


  1. Awesome! This album is gonna be insane...in a good way of course : )
    Really looking forward to hearing it 

    1. Thanks, Keith! I am confident that your ears will not suck, and that you will recognize the sublime magnificence that will be our next album. You are but one Orwellian double-speak motto away from being my ambassador to Chicago. America's most dangerous city needs a man like you! Do you bleed much when shot?