Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tracking and Tone

I started laying down tracks last night for the OilCan Drive album. The thirteen songs are arranged, demoed, and ready to have all the parts laid over the top of them. The only thing stopping me now?


The songs are done but I haven't gone through all the guitar sounds and decided what I want the band to sound like. What does Ryan's guitar sound like? What is his voice? What is Vince's?

I started yesterday with a song that starts with a single guitar lead playing a pretty little run. I found a really pretty toned guitar amp, laid some reverb on it, and added some chorus pedal and a touch of digital delay. Then, because it's fun, I played the same part with a different amp and a phase pedal giving it a touch of a soaring airplane sound. The two different parts playing the same thing mixed into a whirl of sound.

But, it didn't sound right.

The band living in my head HATED it! And when the band in your head includes a giant angry gorilla who outweighs you by six hundred and fifty pounds you tend to listen to them. So, it was back to the drawing board.

Smartly, I pulled out two albums that have a great sound and gave me an idea of what I should shoot for.

One album is by a band called The Outlets. They were a Boston punk band in the eighties and predated Green Day. I found their album on CDBaby and have been loving it ever since. It's raw and rough and all kinds of rock and roll. I always thought if OilCan Drive could make an album without me it might sound like this.

The other album was Blink 182's 1999 album, Enema of the State. That was one of the first albums I bought ten years ago where I was just floored by the sound and amazed that it was only three guys making this much noise. So, I popped the CD into my player on my computer to take a listen.

What I'd forgotten is that that album was one of the earlier "additional content" CDs that had been put out. So, when I put it into the computer a little menu popped up and a movie started playing. It was perfect and just what I needed. The movie had an instrumental version of Blink's break out hit "What's My Age Again." So, I could play along with that track and compare the tones I had coming out of my own guitar.

It worked perfectly and the band in my head seemed happy. Even the eight hundred pound gorilla smiled.

So, no more funky guitar pedals and soaring sounds for this band. Just straight ahead, punch you in the face, rock and roll.

As Lou Reed said on his 1989 album, New York, "you can't beat guitar, bass and drums."

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