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Iron Thrones Blog: No Label Needed – Welcome To The Machine (Shop)

Posted by on April 5, 2010

We decided it’d be a good idea to wake up a little early today, so we could get a good start before heading to the studio. For some reason, it would appear that this hotel has decided to put a modest spread of bagels and various pastries out at 6:00 AM, and then stop refilling it past a certain point (breakfast ends at 11:00). I can say with some certainty that the “certain point” at which they stop is somewhere well before 8:00, as there was very little left by the time Adam and I got down there. I don’t mean to sound unappreciative of our free club-level continental breakfast: it’s really quite wonderful to have, and generally tastes quite good. It just seems somewhat odd to run it the way they do. Perhaps they had a huge crowd this morning that cleared them out? Or is it possible that there is a widespread bagel shortage nobody told us about?

Any way, we each had a croissant with a thick piece of chocolate in the middle of it (a questionable decision on the baker’s part) and some juice, and then went to check on Pete and Curt. When we walked in, we immediately noticed the water slowly dripping down from the ceiling. Curt mentioned it to a passing housekeeping lady, who got one of the hotel managers to come take a look. They decided it’d be best to have the guys switch rooms when we got back from the studio, which was fine with them as their keys had both ceased to work, as had mine. At least we now know why Pete couldn’t get into their room that one night.

Aching to get started on our record (and not being super-stoked on being at the hotel at that particular moment), we decided to head out to the studio a bit early. Although we were immediately greeted by a cold, rainy New Jersey day, our spirits couldn’t be dampened: we were going to the studio! We had a relatively good idea of where it was (two blocks away), but ended up getting directions to the correct building by a possible mob guy, who apparently owned the place. Once we got inside, we followed the signs to The Syndicate (the “big cheese” company running the whole show), where we found Will (Putney, our Producer) and Machine (our other Producer) hanging out with Marc in his office. We exchanged handshakes and greetings, and immediately got a good vibe. It really seems like everybody involved with this project is really excited to be working with us! Which, as you might imagine, only adds to the surreal-ness of this whole experience. This is certainly the strangest experience of my entire life, bar none.

Eager to get down to business, Will gave us a brief studio tour. It turns out The Machine Shop is literally across the hall from The Syndicate, and is clearly a very DIY and even somewhat modest operation (in some ways: the wall of boutique guitar amps is decidedly un-modest). It’s clear why they’re involved with the contest!

While Pete was setting up his drums, will let us know the game plan. For the next three days, we’ll be doing pre-production at The Machine Shop. Then, drum tracking at a different place (with a larger room for a better natural drum sound), and the rest back at The Machine Shop. It’s nice to know that the budget for this album allowed for so much time/attention to detail: it’s pretty much guaranteed to sound completely ridiculous. We’re so far beyond stoked at this point, it almost hurts!

Once Pete had his drums set up, we immediately got down to business tracking for pre-production. Because I’m really tired and have some studio homework to do, I’ll likely detail the process in a later blog, but essentially pre-production consists of laying down the tracks as we have them, then messing with tempos and arrangement, dealing with any weak spots and re-writing parts if necessary. It’s been really interesting to hear Will’s thoughts on the songs: he essentially pinpointed exactly the parts we knew were weak beforehand, and called us out on them. I couldn’t believe how quickly he caught each and every weak spot that we’d let slide, and set us to work figuring out something killer to replace it. As an aspiring producer/engineer, it’s really very inspiring.

After a quick lunch break (Thai food!), I had a brief meeting with Marc, just to catch up. It turns out the aforementioned food budget is indeed real! We’re saved! Thank yoooou Marc/Scion/Syndicate!

I ran back to tell the guys, who were equally excited, and we got back to work tracking another song. Machine came in while we were working on the track, and took the time to chat with me about the record, and about production/engineering in general. It was nice to know that he/Will didn’t plan on heavy quantizing/editing/sound-replacement on the drums (which made us all happy, especially Pete), and that generally the production style he uses is largely dictated by the band. It turns out that the albums he’s worked on that have robotically-accurate drums, were made so at the behest of the bands themselves, which I find interesting. I can’t relate to artists would want their performance to be artificially changed, but I feel like I do understand their point of view. Robotically-accurate performances are simply part of their art: that’s the sound they’re going for. Again, I can’t relate, but whatever floats your boat I guess.

As day turned to night, Will left us to work on some of the new parts we’d written. We hammered out a few ideas, but burnt out rather quickly after a full day of playing. Walking back through the rain, we started to realize the full scope of just how much work we had left to do. Curiously, as the reality was sinking in, the idea of food and beer at Houlihans became more and more appetizing. Adam, Pete, and I gave in to the craving, and had a good discussion about the record. The waitresses were slightly odd in a way I can’t easily describe, but were inarguably quite nice.

Burnt out and ready for sleep, we made it back into the hotel (where we AGAIN discovered our keycards were non-functional) and happily dove into our beds, with the hopes of getting some decent rest in our heads. That rhymed, and reminded me of a quote from some Dr. Suess Christmas story I can’t quite put my finger on.

Cheers,
-steve.h

P.S. Apologies for the delayed posts: it’s going to be hard work from here on out, and some days might need to be condensed or put-off until I have time. I’ll do my absolute best to keep these blogs daily, for those of you who are interested in our progress!

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Categorised in: No Label Needed