Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tracking at Sound Emporium 1/25

I couldn’t be more pleased with our recording session at Sound Emporium in Nashville this past Monday! We tracked drums, bass and two electric guitars for 10 songs during two sessions (10-1 and 2-5) and spent another three hours recording acoustic guitar overdubs for seven songs and acoustic and electric guitar overdubs for an eleventh song.

I want to send out a huge thanks to engineer Todd Robbins and assistant engineer Mike Stankiewicz and to all the studio players — Jerry McPherson (electric guitar), Mike Payne (electric and acoustic guitar), Joeie Canaday (bass) and Miles McPherson (drums).

Crystal and I left Columbus on Sunday morning and arrived in Nashville around six pm. Our son Joshua stayed at home with his Nana and Papa (Crystal’s parents). We wanted to take him with us, but the trip seemed like an intense three days for a high-energy two and half year old.

After checking into our hotel, Crystal and I headed 20 minutes south to the home of our good friends Dave and Emily. We had a wonderful pot roast dinner and met one of Dave’s clients, Marco, a guitarist from Italy. Dave also gave us a tour of his home studio that he has been working on for some time. I was quite impressed — the studio looked both comfortable and professional!

We headed back to the Hampton Inn hoping for a good night of rest. Unfortunately, I woke up at three am and couldn’t go back to sleep. Crystal didn’t sleep well either. I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve waiting to see what was under the tree.

Let the Recording Begin
We arrived at Sound Emporium around 8:00 am on Monday morning. Engineer Todd Robbins and assistant engineer Mike Stankiewicz were already at the studio preparing for the session.
They were adjusting the drum set when I walked in. It was cool to finally meet Todd in person (he mixed my previous project and will be mixing this one as well). What an entertaining guy! He kept us laughing all day with his stories. I especially enjoyed his story about a random lady who walked into a session at Sound Emporium to ask Todd how to get her click track working again in Pro Tools. He told her the key command and she turned around and walked out the door with a quick, “Thanks, bye!” She even came back later to thank him. As he put it, “…only in Nashville.”

The gear at Sound Emporium was impressive. Studio B was recently equipped with a 48-channel API console and the wall of high-end compressors and EQ’s made my mouth water. The majority of the mics and instruments had been set up. A cartage company had dropped off Miles McPherson’s drums and Jerry McPherson’s guitar rig the night before.

The plan was to begin tracking at 10am. Unfortunately, we got started a little late (around 10:30), but still managed to get through five songs in the first three-hour session. We then all walked over to the famous Martin’s BBQ next door for a quick lunch. I had been told I should try the Redneck Taco, but I stuck with a conservative pulled pork sandwich. Crystal went for the half rack of ribs. Good stuff! We headed back to the studio at 2:00 for the second session.

I was a little nervous as we had six songs to track in three hours. I had set an ambitious goal of tracking 11 songs in six hours (the players were accustomed to spending a day in the studio recording one-two songs). Amazingly, the guys flew through the last five songs. However, time did not allow for us to record the eleventh song.

Around 5:10, a group of young guys from Jerry and Mile’s cartage companies came running in the door to pack up the drums and guitar rig as both Jerry and Miles had a 6:00 pm session at another studio. With a quick handshake, Jerry, Miles and Joeie were out the door.

Guitar Overdubs
After everyone had cleared out, Todd and assistant engineer Mike began setting up mics to record acoustic guitar with Mike Payne. From 5:20 until 7:30, Mike cranked through the rhythm acoustic guitar parts for six songs. We recorded two tracks of acoustic guitar for each song. I also tracked B3 for one tune while Mike was playing acoustic.

I was a little bummed that we were unable to record the eleventh song. However, Mike spent a half hour or so adding acoustic and electric guitar to my programmed drums and keyboards and the song ended up sounding great as is!

Mike Stankiewicz (assistant engineer) copied all the Pro Tools sessions to my drive and we finally left the studio around 9pm. It was a thirteen-hour day and we were ready to get some shut-eye.

No Place Like Home
We hit the road for Columbus on Tuesday morning around 10am Nashville time and kept talking about how excited we were to get home to see Joshua. This was the first time we had been away from him for more than a day. Tuesday morning, his Nana (Crystal’s mom) told him he would get to see mommy and daddy around dinnertime, after he took a nap. He quickly replied, “Let’s have dinner now!” Smart kid.

We arrived in Columbus around 5pm Tuesday evening and we were greeted by the warm hug of a little boy who said, “I missed you!” God definitely went before us on this trip and we are so happy for smooth travels and an amazing recording session.

Now begins the editing stage. The next step is to record live strings and vocals in the coming months.