I’ve got Locrian “Return to Annihilation” playing; what a great record. I slept late this morning. Rutan is going to do some track importing so we don’t have to be at the studio until 16:00 today. We’ve been working in studio A and Studio B for the past couple of days. Studio A was set up for bass and vocals, studio was set up for guitar overdubs. Rutan’s assistant engineer Bryan has been working with us on the guitar overdubs. It’s been grueling.
I have half of the vocals complete. It went pretty easily, most were first takes with a couple of punches. Ben killed it on bass; he blasted all of his parts out in a little over 4 hours. Last night we were listening back to one of the songs and I could hear the record taking shape.
It feels like a really long trip getting to this. There were some uncertain times when it was just me and Andrew grinding it out in the practice space. Back in August, the record began to take shape, develop its own life; I could see it manifesting. Rutan was the catalyst, we needed someone who could objectively push us and help use sharpen our swords for battle.
I’ve been reading “Only Death is Real” the illustrated history of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. Aside from the amazing black and white photography, it’s a really cool book; very inspiring. Hellhammer and Celtic Frost have always been an influence on me. In one section, Martin Ain talks about discovering Christian Death and Southern Death Cult along with the steady diet of NWOBHM singles and demos. It all makes sense when you really listen to them closely. I discovered a lot of the gothic bands because of the dark imagery. I picked up the Southern Death Cult LP because it have a heavy title; I saw Bauhaus album covers and assumed they were into some evil shit.
Return victorious or return on your shield.
I’m drinking coffee and gearing up for my last day of tracking. I have one and a half songs worth of clean vocals lefts to do and some short sections in two other songs. Clean singing can go either way depending on how warmed up my voice is. I’m flying out tonight and will be back in my apartment at about 23:00. Garett and Ben will drive the van back to New York; we’ll meet up to load into the space in a couple of days and that will be that.
I have some work-related stuff to take care of tomorrow morning which prompted me to book a last minute flight and miss the last day of the session. There are some minor punch-ins to the rhythm guitar tracks due to tuning; nothing too crazy.
It’s been an extremely taxing two weeks. This has been the hardest recording experience that I’ve ever dealt with but it’s worth it. Rutan is a genius; coming down here to record was one of the few smart decisions that I made this year. I needed to let go and let someone else steer the production; I needed an objective opinion from someone who has more experience than I do. I can hear it in the raw tracks that we made the right decision.
I’m tripping out on the fact that I’ll be back tonight and tomorrow morning I’ll be on the subway heading to my job. It’s a heavy, suffocating feeling.
I’m on the fight back to New York. I land in La Guardia in a couple of hours, then it’s back to the apartment. We tracked clean vocals right up to the last minute but I still got here with some time to spare. Flying always stresses me out; I feel like there is going to be an issue and I won’t be able to board the plane. It’s the TSA people that make me the most uncomfortable. What a job and it’s my understanding that they wage is pretty low.
The Tampa airport is nice; extremely easy to navigate. There was virtually no line when I went to check in; I rolled with my Datsusara bag and laptop so it was simple. I wonder what it would be like to work at an airport, say for example, what it would be like to work at the Starbucks at the Jetblue terminal. Airports are strange environments, it makes me think of Fight Club and “Single Serving Friends.”
Ben and Garett are at the studio right now as I get farther and farther away from them and closer to the great, miserable city of New York. Aside from some fixes here and there, we are done. Everything sounds great. As I mentioned before, Erik Rutan is a genius. He is involved when he agrees to do a record. A lot of people say that they are involved, that they are part of the team, part of the process when recording a record, but in reality, you’re on your own in most cases. Erik understands the weight of the recording process; you only get one chance to do something that is forever so it requires an incredible effort, a superhuman effort and as a result, I’m rethinking a lot of things, reevaluating the way I’ve done things in the past.
It was cool hanging out in St. Pete for two weeks. I didn’t really have a chance to see much besides the hotel room, the Wawa and the studio aside with one or two forays out to the beach. That part of Florida reminds me a little of Southern California; there’s a pleasant oceanside vibe, people are more or less friendly. When I got to the gate at the airport, I noticed all of the scowling faces that were waiting to board the flight back to New York and I realized why Rutan is so stoked to be living down there.
I’m looking out of the window into the blackness of the sky. I’m starting to relax a little. The flight attendant just brought me a cup of coffee; things aren’t so bad. I was clenched up a few hours ago as I cut the last vocal track and we gave everything a listen to proof my performance. I realized that if we hit traffic or if there was some kind of delay, I would be in deep shit. The last few flights have been international flights for me so it was comforting to know that I wouldn’t have to be going through customs. I have the whole row to myself. When I bought my ticket, I paid an extra $30 for an “even more space” seat with extra leg-room. It was worth it.
Whenever there is band-related travel involved, be it a tour or recording, I never think past the actual task. I assume that I won’t be coming home, that somehow I won’t make it back from the mission. I never think about going home, just leaving and doing the job.
I can feel good that we did our best work on this record and that we have the right guy at the controls. Everyone played their asses off. All of the rehearsal, the pre-production demos, the writing sessions and the long hours with a notebook paid off. Even if nobody likes the record I know we did a great job.
In some ways, it’s a miracle that we even were able to make this whole trip happen. Leading up to the session there was a lot of personal obstacles. I have to hand it to Relapse and Erik Rutan for their patience and understanding. A lot of people would have walked away from this situation when things started becoming…difficult. I feel like we’re stronger for it.