13 June 2006

session log, volume one

song: "higher love"
artist: boris garcia

instrument(s) played: 40's gibson lap steel

studio: studio four, conshohocken PA

engineer: frank moore

producer: bob stirner and jeff otto

mixed by: phil nicolo

this song is due for release on boris garcia's second album, "mother's finest", which will be out sometime in july of 2006. it's also one of the last projects to be recorded in the upstairs tracking room at the legendary studio four in conshohocken. phil nicolo and his brother joe (collectively known as the butcher brothers) have ushered a lot of talent through those doors in the years that they've been there. some of their credits include billy joel, the fugees, dishwalla, the hooters, urge overkill, kris kross, cypress hill and so on and so forth. the original studio 4 was built in center city in 1980, and they moved to conshohocken in 1994. the first record they made there was dishwalla's debut (which featured the single counting blue cars). now, the last record they're making in this space is the follow up to boris garcias' debut.

not that there's a sense of finality hovering over their heads - they're simply moving to another space in the same building. but, i gotta tell you...the tracking room they're leaving behind is an amazing room, and it's a damn shame to see it go. i felt priveleged to get to do some work there before it was ripped out and moved to the new space.

for this particular song, i had a pretty specific idea of what i wanted to do. bob had given me a grand total of two words' direction for the session:

sneaky pete.

well, ok. point taken. now i know what you want.

lots of high, haunting, sustained notes with as much soul as you can muster. that pretty much fills that particular prescription.

i went with my standard gear for a lap steel session - either the gibson or the chandler lap steel (in most cases...i also brought the rickenbacker, but i was pretty certain that i wouldn't be using it...it's a little midrangey for this kind of session - much better for overdriven tones), my princeton reverb, and my voodoo labs sparkle drive pedal, for "just in case".

i'm ashamed to say that i can't remember what mic they used on the amp for the session. i simply wasn't paying attention. in typical fashion, though, i did two passes once we started recording, and they kept the two for "comp" purposes. i'm pretty sure the second one was the winner - it usually is.

that seems to be my prescription: three takes.

first take - usually a bit tentative or unsure of itself, as i'm still finding my way around the song.

second take - almost always the keeper. i've had a pass to get comfortable, and now i'm ready to do it for real.

third take - usually made up of whatever ideas i might've had during the first two that i didn't execute - usually done for "comp" purposes, or because they just want to make sure they've got enough good stuff for the track before they unplug and move on. sometimes we don't even make it this far.

if i need to go beyond that, it's usually to punch in any mistakes i might've made on one of the three passes.

anyway, this session was no different - we got a couple of passes, and i suggested to frank, the engineer, that this song would sound great with a rickenbacker 12 string on it, and he agreed enthusiastically - but we never had time to go back and add it in. the clock ran out on us.

the track was one of two that i was hoping to get to play on, based on roughs that i'd heard during the making of the record...but you know, when the walls of the studio are literally falling down around you as you're trying to work, you gotta choose your battles....


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